Rangers manager Bruce Bochy informed reporters this afternoon that right-hander Jake Odorizzi will start the season on the injured list (link via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). General manager Chris Young had indicated last week that was a possibility, as Odorizzi has been delayed in camp by arm fatigue.
Acquired from the Braves at the start of the offseason, Odorizzi initially looked ticketed for a back-of-the-rotation spot in Arlington. The veteran hurler was squeezed out of the starting five by Texas’ subsequent moves, as the Rangers added each of Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi on multi-year free agent deals. With Martín Pérez returning via the qualifying offer to join Jon Gray, the Rangers go into the season with a high-upside starting five.
Each of deGrom, Heaney, Eovaldi and Gray has had recent red flags from a health perspective, however. No team goes through the same five starters through an entire season but the Rangers are taking on as much health risk from their rotation as any club. That makes depth of particular importance.
Odorizzi’s absence will deal an early hit to that group. It doesn’t seem there’s huge concern but Bochy told reporters the club would be “cautious” with his build-up. He has still yet to get into a Spring Training game. The club hasn’t provided much of a timetable for when he might get on the mound.
In the interim, Dane Dunning and Glenn Otto figure to move up a peg in the rotation hierarchy. Dunning is a solid sixth starter in his own right. He’s been a rotation fixture in Texas for two years, including 29 starts of 4.46 ERA ball with an excellent 53.3% ground-ball rate last season. He’s provided the club with serviceable back-of-the-rotation innings for consecutive seasons since being acquired from the White Sox for Lance Lynn. Otto has had a little tougher go at the MLB level, serving up a 4.64 ERA with subpar strikeout and walk rates through 135 2/3 innings last year.
Both Dunning and Otto have multiple minor league option years remaining. They can either continue to work as starters at Triple-A Round Rock or open the season in Arlington as long relief options. Grant writes that both deGrom and Eovaldi are expected to be on pitch limits early in the season — unsurprising caution for pitchers who each started camp a little slowly thanks to minor discomfort — so the ability to work multiple innings out of the bullpen could give Dunning or Otto a leg up on an Opening Day roster spot.