Jake Odorizzi has made his way from Springdale, Arkansas to Omaha, Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri this year and is primed to make his big league debut on Sunday.
The Royals were originally thinking of having him in the bullpen and possibly using him that way but at this point, he’s unlikely to do that unless the plan changes. Luis Mendoza was scheduled to pitch tonight but due to strep throat he missed his turn and Bruce Chen went in his place. Ned Yost told the media before Wednesday’s game that it would then be Jeremy Guthrie Thursday and Mendoza Friday if he’s feeling well. Will Smith would pitch Saturday and then Sunday would turn into Odorizzi’s day.
Of course plans can change.
There was a bit of curiosity in the timing, though, as Yost suggested that he didn’t want to throw Odorizzi against the Tigers or White Sox. Instead, his start would come against Cleveland. It’s not clear if he just doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Odorizzi. Jeff Parker made the point that at this time of year, there’s at least some value in seeing Odorizzi against a playoff contender rather than a last place team. It’s just an odd decision.
Will Smith made his debut in Yankee Stadium. It went poorly, but there wasn’t any hesitation to put him in that situation. Odorizzi’s last start was against Reno when he got shelled for eight runs and gave up four homers. Perhaps sending him out against the Indians is Ned’s way of easing him him. It would be nice to see how he reacts to a playoff-contending team’s lineup though.
Odorizzi would still have enough time to make another start this year as well. A few extra innings would help the Royals evaluate him at this level before waiting until next spring training to get a longer look. To me, that’s a good thing. They may keep him on an innings limit if he does make two starts in September, though nobody has said that would be the case. It’s possible they’d be concerned about overdoing it. After two playoff starts added 10.2 innings, Odorizzi has exceeded his previous season high in innings of 147 from last season (with 156 so far in 2012). Ten more innings with the Royals wouldn’t be a huge jump to me.
If nothing else, though, Odorizzi is on a path to face his first big league hitter at Kauffman Stadium. It’s been a long wait.