7:00 pm: Odorizzi left today’s game with right forearm tightness, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Forearm tightness can sometimes be a precursor to serious elbow injuries, but manager Dusty Baker told reporters (McTaggart link) that Odorizzi didn’t have any issues in his pregame bullpen session and is “not real worried.” Nevertheless, he’ll go for further evaluation in the coming days, Baker says (via Mark Berman of FOX 26).
3:45 pm: Astros right-hander Jake Odorizzi faced just one batter before being removed from today’s start against the Angels. Odorizzi retired David Fletcher on five pitches but then seemed to be “flexing out his arm after the pitch,” according to Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), and left the game after a visit from the team trainer. None of Odorizzi’s five pitches to Fletcher topped the 87.6 mph mark, according to MLB.com’s Gameday tracker.
Odorizzi was making his third start since signing a two-year (plus a player option for 2023) free agent deal that will pay the veteran righty at least $23.5MM in guaranteed money. Since Odorizzi didn’t sign until early March, he required some extra time to prepare for the season, and he was clearly rusty in his first two outings — Odorizzi allowed nine earned runs over 7 2/3 innings for a 10.57 ERA.
Odorizzi has dealt with a variety of fairly minor injuries over his career, including a rib strain, a blister, and a chest contusion all during the 2020 season that limited him to only 13 2/3 innings with the Twins, and undoubtedly contributed to his long stay in free agency. For the most part, however, Odorizzi has been a durable starter over his 10 MLB seasons, averaging 165 innings per season from 2014-19 while pitching for the Rays and Twins. Blisters aside, he has avoided any notable arm injuries, though that streak could be in jeopardy given the circumstances of today’s removal from the game.
Any sort of long-term injury would be a real blow to both Odorizzi and the Astros rotation, since the team was counting on Odorizzi to join Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. as the veteran bedrocks ahead of Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy. The good news for Houston is that Javier has pitched well in the follow-up to his strong 2020 rookie season, and righty Luis Garcia has a 2.70 ERA over two starts and a long relief outing so far this year. Garcia is probably the Astros’ best candidate to replace Odorizzi in the event of injury, as the team is short on big league experience at the alternate training site, and it still isn’t known when (or if) Framber Valdez might be ready to pitch this season after suffering a fractured finger.