The first of the Royal prospects shipped to Tampa Bay in THE TRADE came up today, and it was not Wil Myers. Jake Odorizzi made his first start against the Blue Jays, and did a respectable job of it. He went 5 innings on 92 pitches, nothing to write home about, but after struggling through the first two innings he settled in to retire 10 of the last 11 batters faced. His final line of 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, and 6 Ks is not too bad. A 1.20 WHIP and more than a strike out per inning will normally net a much better ERA. His ascendance to the big leagues could be viewed in a couple of ways.
The Rays have been the most disciplined team in the majors when it comes to holding prospects down in order to get extra years of service or avoid super two status. That makes a move like bringing Odorizzi up look a little odd before June. It could be taken that he is seen by them as a marginal starter at best, so they are not concerned about him reaching arbitration early. So far this year he has okay, but not spectacular numbers in AAA. Most evaluations I have ever seen on Jake have his ceiling as a middle to back of the rotation starter. No reason to worry about $10 million arbitration deals, so super two and an extra year of arbitration are less costly. If his service time is greater than Myers’, then it also makes it less likely that Wil is in the super two this year.
Another way to look at it is that the back end of the Rays rotation has been bad. They are off to a rough start as a team (4.5 games back of NY and 4 behind Boston), and Odorizzi becomes their 4th best starter immediately. Odorizzi realizing his potential now could be very valuable in helping Tampa Bay keep in the AL East hunt. Wil Myers might be up already in that case except that he has not lit the world on fire in the minors. A 28.3% K rate has lead to a .250 average and sub-400 slugging. That is not how Myers hit last year, and Tampa Bay might think that the 22 year old needs some more time for development.
Either way this is an interesting and unexpected development. No one was really planning on Odorizzi coming up and giving a lot of value to the Rays right away. The talk of THE TRADE all hinged on Myers. Also, Wade Davis having a hard time transitioning back into the rotation for the Royals could make Odorizzi having success this year sting a bit.