On a night when the Houston Astros debuted their City Connect uniforms for the first time this season, the Astros just seemed disconnected as the Los Angeles Angels had everything going their way against Astros starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi.
In his third start of the season, Odorizzi was hoping for a change of fortune after his last outing against the Seattle Mariners, where Odorizzi went 4.1 innings, giving up eight hits, four earned runs, three walks, and only one strikeout. Since Odorizzi joined the Astros in 2021 during Spring Training, he has a 4.38 ERA in 113.0 innings pitched in 26 games.
On Wednesday, it was a different story for Odorizzi. The Angels got to Odorizzi early as he did not manage to get out of the first inning, going just two-thirds of an inning, giving up two hits, six runs, three of those runs were earned, four walks, and two strikeouts. Since joining the Astros, Odorizzi has not been the same pitcher since 2019, when he went 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA in thirty games with the Minnesota Twins. That season, he was also selected to the All-Star team.
The loss on Wednesday night should not fall entirely on Odorizzi. Since winning the first series of the season against the Angels, the Astros have split a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, lost a series against the Seattle Mariners, and dropped the first series at home against the Angels. An offense that started hot has since gone cold. Throughout the first 12-games of the season, the Astros have scored 41 runs compared to the 48 runs that opponents have scored. To make matters worse, the Astros are batting a team average of .199 while their opponents are batting .234 against them. Aside from the Astros, the Minnesota Twins are the only other team in the American League with a team batting average below .200.
What can the Astros do to get back on track? First, Yuli Gurriel, Kyle Tucker, and Jose Altuve need to get things going at the plate. We know that Altuve will be out for the foreseeable future as he has been placed on the injured list due to his left hamstring strain. The reigning American League batting champion (Gurriel) has been slow, hitting just .147/.171/.265 in 35 plate appearances. Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez have been slow to begin the season, but both have the highest OPS on the team. Throughout these first 12 games, the only bright spot has been the rookie shortstop, Jeremy Peña. In 11 games, Peña is hitting .308/.364/.590/.954.
It is only April, and there is still a long way to go, but the way this offense is playing is concerning. The Astros need to figure out a way to take control of a game, and they will not win them all, but at most, the Astros need to be able to stay in the ballgames. Pitching has been better, primarily in the bullpen, where they did not allow a single run after Odorizzi was lifted in the first inning. As for Odorizzi himself, he needs to find whatever earned him that All-Star selection in 2019. If Odorizzi is unable to, we might see Cristian Javier slot into the rotation and see Odorizzi moved to the bullpen. Only time will tell, but the Astros can not afford to get too far behind in the American League West.
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