In the latest edition of Penning Bull, I wrote about Jake Odorizzi, the Twins’ new number-three starter. Specifically, I tackled the topic of Odorizzi’s notable reverse platoon splits; the way that characteristic makes him particularly valuable to the Twins; and what, in my opinion, the Twins need to do to make this transaction pay the highest possible dividends.
For something close to zero real cost (shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios is no higher than fourth on their organizational depth chart at any infield position), the Twins got what amounts to a solid back-end starter, with just a smattering of upside. The thing to love about this deal is the way it goes right up to the Twins’ chief division rival and punches them in the mouth. The Cleveland Indians are baseball’s most platoon-happy, switch-hitter-heavy offense. They had the platoon advantage in 69 percent of their plate appearances last season, highest in MLB. Odorizzi, a right-hander, figures to see lefties in about 70 percent of his encounters with Cleveland batters this season, because they have either switch-hitters (Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Francisco Mejia lurking in the minors, plus Greg Allen and Abraham Almonte on the fringes of the roster) or pure lefties (Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Yonder Alonso, Lonnie Chisenhall, Bradley Zimmer, plus top first-base prospect Bobby Bradley and floundering former rookie sensation Tyler Naquin) at most positions, most of the time.
Odorizzi, however, belongs to the phylum of pitchers who are better (much better, really) against opposite-handed hitters. His approach mostly consists of high, rising fastballs, then splitters that dive below the strike zone. That’s the recipe for a reverse-split starter.
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