As you've doubtless heard by now, the Royals called up Jake Odorizzi from Triple-A on Sunday.
It was a move that made perfect sense. Odorizzi's team had been eliminated from the PCL playoffs on Saturday. He needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to be shielded from the Rule 5 draft. And the Royals 40-man roster had two open spots. Now it has one.
Odorizzi was largely stellar in his minor league campaign. He finished with a 3.03 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 145 innings. Over 107 of those innings were in Omaha. He ended his season with a 2.93 ERA and a 7.4 SO/9 and 3.4 BB/9 for the Storm Chasers.
As I said, perfect sense.
Except, this is the Royals...The bonus of the timing of this is Odorizzi should be ready to take the ball immediately. His normal turn to start would have been Sunday. Obviously, with Will Smith already skipped recently and with the travel to KC on Sunday, it wouldn't have been smart to hand Odorizzi the ball upon arrival. Talk about a whirlwind.
With the offday Monday, it seemed like he would get an opportunity at the early part of the week. Except the Royals are going to keep Odorizzi in the bullpen for the moment.
Per Dutton, here's Ned Yost's explanation:
"He won’t start against any contending clubs," Yost said. "We’ve got two series against Cleveland. We might start him at the end of this week here in one of those games against Cleveland."
That means the probables for the White Sox series are this murderer's row of starting pitching:
Tuesday - Luke Hochevar
Wednesday - Luis Mendoza
Thursday - Bruce Chen
I'm not looking to Odorizzi as some sort of starting pitcher savant. But exactly why can't he make a start on close to normal rest? Sure, the White Sox are in a pennant race, but are you going to sit there with a straight face and try to tell me that Hochevar gives your team a better chance? Push everyone back. It's September. Arms are tired. It's been an excruciatingly long season. And Hochevar is awful.
No harm in moving him back a day to squeeze Odorizzi in there. Why not give the youngster a start or two against teams that have something at stake. Let's get a look at his intestinal fortitude. We shouldn't be concerned with his inning count at this point. He's thrown one fewer inning this year than last. He should be good for two, maybe three starts.
And who trusts the Royals and Yosty to actually manage Odorizzi properly when coming out of the bullpen? As a starter, if he's going to come into a game, he should come in at the beginning of an inning - no one on base and no one out - when he has had ample time to warm up. To me, it seems imperative he sticks to the routine he's established as a starter. Keep him in his rhythm. Odorizzi hasn't pitched out of the bullpen since 2010 when he was in A-ball. (He made one appearance out of the pen for Omaha, but that was a scheduled relief appearance, that was handled like a start.)
OK... Big picture, this isn't a massive deal. But it feels like another misstep when it comes to handling their prospects and their transition to the major leagues. The Royals seem to spend way too much time and energy concerned with how to introduce their young players to the major league environment. It's September. This isn't complicated. He's here and he should play. At least ahead of the dead-enders that remain in the rotation. Plus, nothing Odorizzi does now should color our perceptions of him. If he gets shelled, OK... If he shuts down the opposition, that's great... He still needs to earn a starting spot in spring training. But why not give him a chance to test the waters now?
It seems so simple...