The Kansas City Royals are winding down yet another second-rate campaign in 2012. And while nothing that happens in the season’s final few games might seem to matter much in the grand scheme of things—save a serious injury, of course—there is one player to keep a close eye on.
While the initial plan was to have Odorizzi pitch from the bullpen, circumstances have forced some movement in the rotation, giving the young pitcher the chance to show Kansas City if he is able to translate his minor league success to the big leagues.
Odorizzi, acquired in the Zack Greinke trade prior to the 2011 season along with Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress (all currently with the Royals), pitched well across two levels in the Royals organization this season.
He was 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 135 strikeouts to only 50 walks over 145.1 innings pitched.
With the inconsistencies in the Royals rotation throughout the entire season, some wonder why Odorizzi’s name wasn’t called on before. However, General Manager Dayton Moore decided it best for the young pitcher to continue working in a lower-pressure situation.
But regardless of when Odorizzi was to make his debut, the conditions surrounding the Royals and their highly noted starting pitching woes will shine the spotlight on him even more.
Luke Hochevar has never harnessed his potential—if that’s what you want to call it—and Bruce Chen has regressed from last year’s solid performance.
Jeremy Guthrie has provided a spark since coming over in a trade that sent the troublesome Jonathan Sanchez to the Colorado Rockies. But the better he pitches down the stretch, the tougher it will be for the Royals to bring him back to Kansas City—assuming that is even in the plans.
The Royals have also dealt with serious injuries to what seems like all of their best and most promising arms in the last couple of seasons.
Starting pitchers Felipe Paulino, Danny Duffy and John Lamb, and relievers Joakim Soria and Blake Wood are all recovering from Tommy John Surgery.
And with Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer suffering setbacks in their development as well, the focus now rests solely on Odorizzi to break the mold.
With the luck that the organization has had recently, it is anyone’s guess just how Odorizzi will pan out for the Royals. The unfortunate turn of events forces Kansas City to look outside of the organization for starting pitching in order to compete in Major League Baseball.
However, Odorizzi should be a part of those plans. That journey begins Sunday.