Braves trade Will Smith to Astros for Jake Odorizzi

by 24USATVAug. 2, 2022, 4 p.m. 25
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This season, Odorizzi has a 3.75 ERA over 12 starts. He suffered a left leg injury in May and didn’t return until July 4. In five starts since then, he has a 4.45 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 28-1/3 innings.

He could enter the Braves’ rotation. They have five starters, but you can never have too much pitching, especially because Ian Anderson has struggled. Odorizzi has a player option on his contract for 2023.

Odorizzi’s four-seam fastball has averaged 92 mph this season. He also throws a cutter, a splitter, a slider and a curveball. He was an All-Star in 2019, when he posted a 3.51 ERA over 30 starts for the Twins. He debuted for the Royals in 2012, then played for the Rays, Twins and Astros before the Braves acquired him.

Odorizzi would give the Braves six starting pitchers. They have been using a five-man rotation.

But the Braves have two doubleheaders during their coming three-city road trip – one Saturday in New York, the other Aug. 13 in Miami. These could allow the Braves to use six starters for the time being.

Anderson has a 4.99 ERA and a 1.505 WHIP through 20 starts. He’s experienced tons of postseason success for the Braves since his debut in 2020. He’s still young and could turn it around this season. Acquiring Odorizzi would give the Braves options with how to handle the rotation.

Smith was the Braves’ closer last season. He helped the team win a World Series by tossing 11 scoreless innings while collecting six saves during the Braves’ postseason run.

But he found himself out of the role this spring, when the Braves signed Kenley Jansen.

While Jansen stepped in as the Braves’ full-time closer, the team saw Smith as someone who could close games if Jansen were unavailable. Jansen’s signing merely meant the Braves had more late-inning relievers.

It didn’t turn out that way.

This season, Smith hasn’t been as reliable as the Braves had hoped. He has a 4.38 ERA over 37 innings, with a 1.514 WHIP. He allowed six earned runs over his past four appearances.

The Braves couldn’t afford to continue using him in the late innings. A.J. Minter, Dylan Lee and Jansen were more reliable. Tyler Matzek also might’ve been a surer bet than Smith. And the Braves might soon return Kirby Yates from his rehab assignment.

Before the 2020 season, the Braves signed Smith to a three-year, $39 million deal that included a $13 million club option for 2023 and a $1 million buyout for that year. With his performance, the Braves seemed destined to pay the buyout rather than pick up the option.

Instead, they traded Smith for a pressing need.

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