Saturday, July 2, 2022

Astros right-hander Jake Odorizzi avoids major injury, MRI reveals only strains and sprains of ligaments

The Houston Astros lost right-hander Jake Odorizzi to a left leg injury Monday night that, at the time, looked potentially very serious. Odorizzi crumbled to the ground after breaking toward first base to cover the bag in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox and had to be carted off the field. At the time, the Astros said he exited with “left lower leg discomfort” and would be evaluated further.

Here is the play that led to Odorizzi leaving the game:

Two days later, it sounds like he has avoided the worst-case scenario. Many people watching the game worried that this might be a torn Achilles tendon, and Odorizzi himself said that was what he feared (via Houston Chronicle). Instead, an MRI showed Odorizzi has “only some strains and sprains of other ligaments around the ankle/foot.”

That still doesn’t sound that something will be irrelevant, but a torn Achilles would have had him out until around the middle of 2023, so this certainly qualifies as good news under the circumstances. 

Several pitchers have suffered freak leg injuries at Fenway Park in recent years. Garrett Richards, then with the Los Angeles Angels, tore a knee tendon covering first base in 2015. Angels righty Jake Jewell broke his leg covering home plate in 2018.

Odorizzi, 32, took a 3.38 ERA in six starts and 26 2/3 innings into Monday’s start. He allowed two runs (one earned) in five innings before exiting the game with the injury. Odorizzi has a fairly long injury history, though his only previous leg injury is a left hamstring strain in 2015. Most of the injuries have been upper-body muscle pulls.

The Astros have used a six-man rotation for much of the season and could simply cut down to a normal five-man rotation. Justin Verlander, José Urquidy, Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez, and Luis Garcia are Houston’s other five starters.

Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. has not pitched this season due to a forearm injury suffered in last year’s ALDS. He recently resumed playing catch and could rejoin the rotation sometime in the middle of the season.

Houston enters Wednesday’s action with a one-game lead over the Angels in the AL West. The Astros are 24-13 and the Angels are 24-15.

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