Jake Odorizzi became the second high-profile pitching prospect to emerge from the minors this year, making his season debut about a month after the Reds' Tony Cingrani. Like Cingrani, Odorizzi earned his promotion thanks to a combination of success at the Triple-A level and an injury to an ace on his parent club. For Cingrani, it was Johnny Cueto. For Odorizzi, it was David Price. After getting touched up for three runs by the Blue Jays in his first two innings Monday, Odorizzi did not allow another hit in his final three innings and retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. He struck out six batters while walking just one, and a poor call by one of the umpires made his line worse than it should have been. The question for us in this week's pitching report is what value should fantasy owners assign to Odorizzi for the remainder of the year?
First, allow me to mention the obvious. Odorizzi's value is largely tied to how long Price remains on the shelf. The Rays have yet to place a timetable on his return, but when he first went down, manager Joe Maddon indicated he'd likely miss just two or three starts. If that's the case, owners in redraft leagues shouldn't break the bank to acquire Odorizzi. If you're in a deeper mixed league, perhaps 14 or 16 teams, sure, jump on in. But if your league has 12 teams or fewer, you might want to think about adding a different pitcher.
There's also the chance that Odorizzi makes enough of an impression on Maddon and his staff that he remains in the rotation even after Price returns. Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore all have secure spots in the rotation, but Roberto Hernandez could be a target for Odorizzi. He's no more than filler at the backend of the rotation, posting a 5.24 ERA and 1.37 WHIP thus far. If Odorizzi pitches well in Price's stead, the Rays could choose to keep him around while moving Hernandez to the bullpen.
Odorizzi didn't snag any headlines, but he was an important part of the Wil Myers-James Shields trade the Rays and Royals pulled off during the offseason. He has the right pedigree, selected as a first-round pick back in 2008. He was ranked the No. 92 prospect by Baseball America coming into this year, and was 45th on MLB.com's board.
For the sake of argument, let's go ahead and assume Odorizzi spends a decent chunk of the season in the majors. If that's the case, he'll end up being owned in all formats. In eight starts at Triple-A Durham, he was 4-0 with a 3.83 ERA and 47/15 K/BB ratio. He isn't overpowering with his fastball, but it sits in the low-90s, and is hard enough to be effective. Most importantly, he had one of the best curveballs in the minors, something with which the Blue Jays became quite familiar with on Monday. When Odorizzi dominated the Toronto lineup, his curveball was doing most of the work. If he gets somewhere between 15 and 20 starts, we can safely expect seven wins, 80 strikeouts and an ERA around 4.00 in 80 innings.
Starting pitcher barometer
What a relief
? No doubt that's what John Farrell and Red Sox fans everywhere are saying regarding the impending return of Andrew Bailey. When he does return, he'll slide right back into the closer's role. He should be owned everywhere. If for some reason an owner in your league dropped him when he hit the DL, grab him while you can. And again, I still think Koji Uehara has plenty of value. As for Junichi Tazawa, you can probably let him go once Bailey returns.
? Brandon League's days as the Dodgers' closer are likely coming to an end, even with Kenley Jansen's back-to-back dreadful outings over the weekend. There's just no denying that Jansen has been the better pitcher this year and has the better closer profile. For now, both are worth owning, but Jansen has a 31/6 K/BB ratio and 1.07 WHIP, and the typical fastball-slider combo that suits closers so well. Jansen will be the official closer for the Dodgers before long.
? Finally, Mike Dunn picked up a one-out save Sunday after Steve Cishek allowed one hit and one walk while getting the first two outs in the inning. Cishek's job is safe for now, but Dunn has been rather effective this year, striking out 20 batters and walking nine in 20.2 innings. He has allowed just one home run and 16 hits, and has clearly been a better pitcher than Cishek in 2013. If he were to become closer, he'd have to overcome the anti-lefty sentiment in the ninth, but it's still a situation worth monitoring for the time being.