The two veteran starters in the rotation have hit the skids lately. Zach Greinke and Jake Odorizzi have combined for a 6.10 ERA in their last 5 starts. They have teamed up for a ballooned 1.60 WHIP, a .302 BA and 11 home runs. Yuck, Yuck, and Yuck.
For a team with championship aspirations and a young pitching staff, Houston needs to have great play from their veteran starters. That just isn’t the case the past couple weeks.
Zack Greinke is posting a 6.30 ERA with a 1.70 WHIP and 6 homers in his past two starts – which includes the 4-home run game he allowed at San Francisco. The Cy Young winner has not made it past six innings and has not exceeded 4 strikeouts in each of his last five starts. He’s posting a 6.6 strikeouts per 9 innings – the lowest in his career since his rookie season.
He’s still generating a ton of soft contact and is around his career average with WHIP, so I’m not as worried as I would with others. Perhaps he could use small adjustment in his pitch selection (he’s been using the slider 33% in his last couple starts – up from 15% in May), but I wouldn’t be concerned about a bonafide ace like Greinke.
The stakes are not as high in mid-August as they will be in October. When the stakes are high, Greinke tends to perform at the highest level.
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Odorizzi had a terrific bounce-back game against the Rockies ( 5IP, 3 hits, 0 ERs), but that still doesn’t help us forget that 4-home run disaster he served up in LA last week. The right-handed veteran is posting a 6.05 ERA in his past three starts with a ballooned WHIP of 1.43 and opponent BA of .259. It gets worse when you look back to Odorizzi’s play from July through August – He’s averaging a 5.93 ERA, with a 1.55 WHIP and .275 OBA in his last six starts.
Odorizzi has shown the ability to beat up on lesser teams (Colorado, Baltimore) but he has been absolutely shelled against the better lineups, like he did against the White Sox on July 17th and against the Dodgers on August 4th.
This last stretch of games will be important for Odorizzi to find his form and earn a spot in the postseason rotation. If he can find a way to get through five innings a start without any serious damage – like he did on Tuesday – that would be more than enough for this revamped bullpen.