Jake Odorizzi turned last night's near-seven innings of two his ball into the first win of the season, and the first victory in the Kevin Cash era. Whether we were looking at the experimental slider in the start is to be determined, but we did get to see an excellent pitcher at work, and our friend Jason at Dock of the Rays has a recap of the performance:
Jake Odorizzi kicked off his 2015 campaign with a raucous bang. He set down a pretty solid lineup that had put up 12 runs combined in the previous two games with a final line of 6 2/3 IP, 2 Hits, 0 Runs, 0 Walks, and 7 Strikeouts. This was no fluke. He mixed his pitches, locations, and speeds well to keep both lefties and righties off balance...
He threw a wonderful mix of pitches leaning on none of them more than half of the time and using three of them roughly 20% of the time. This is a great way to keep hitters off balance because there are subtle velocity changes between the four-seamer, the cutter, and the splitter... and also because each pitch moves in a different direction.
The article the demonstrates visually how the splitters and cutters divided the arm and glove sides for Hodor, before getting into the even distribution of his elevated fastball:
He has a pitch that he can throw to either side of the plate in any count to lefties AND to righties AND he can throw it for a strike. The four seamer rides high allowing him to change eye levels and sneak what isn't a great fastball (by velocity) by good hitters. He did a fantastic job of staying out of the middle of the plate. When he can throw to the edges of the zone with this mix he's going to be really good. Another thing that stood out is that his velocity was up slightly.
It's one blip so this is more of something that we want to monitor, but Odorizzi has reportedly started the season around 15-20 pounds heavier than he has in the past. This was a concentrated effort to have more stamina for the long grind of the season, but perhaps this is helping him tick that velocity up a smidge. It doesn't take much for a fastball with great movement but eh velocity to come a great pitch by bumping that velo slightly. The encouraging thing is that he was able to maintain that velocity throughout the start.
Again, all the visuals you need are behind the link, as well as some concluding thoughts.