Jake Odorizzi was once a relative afterthought in a blockbuster trade.
These days, he looks more like the centerpiece.
When the Royals and Rays pulled off a seven-player trade on December 9, 2012, James Shields and Wil Myers headlined the returns for their new teams. But Odorizzi was one of the players who made the switch from Kansas City to Tampa as well, and after reaching the majors for a handful of appearances in each of the past two seasons -- in 2012 with the Royals, last season with the Rays -- Odorizzi has finally found a home in the Rays' rotation.
More than that, the 24-year-old has gotten comfortable in his new home. Odorizzi allowed one run on three hits over seven innings in a win over the NL Central-leading Brewers on Monday, running his record to 5-1 over his last seven starts.
His stretch of impressive performance goes back even further. After a disappointing April in which he went 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA, Odorizzi owns a 2.83 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 103/28 K/BB ratio in his last 86 innings of work. All told, the right-hander is 7-8 with a 3.80 ERA through 21 starts this year.
But even with all his success, Odorizzi is still being overlooked in many fantasy leagues. As of Monday night, Odorizzi was still owned in just 35 percent of Yahoo leagues. That's below guys like Dan Haren (58 percent), Clay Buchholz (46 percent) and John Axford (no, really).
Odorizzi is doing it without a dominant pitch, but nothing about his profile suggests he's pitching above his skill level. With a top 10 strikeout percentage -- Odorizzi fans 26.9 percent of the batters he faces, eighth-best in the majors among qualified starters -- that's supported by an above average swinging strike percentage, Odorizzi certainly seems like the real deal. Fantasy owners need to sit up and take notice.
After originally being viewed as a throw-in to one of the biggest trades in recent history, the baseball world surely has.
In what will likely be a staple between now and Thursday, the trade rumors came early and often Monday.
Easily the most interesting was the discussion surrounding Troy Tulowitzki. The shortstop, who is on the disabled list with a left hip flexor strain, showed up at Yankee Stadium on Sunday to catch a Yankees game, fueling some speculation that relations between Tulo and the Rockies are on the rocks. Those rumors weren't aided by the t-shirt giveaway at Coors Field in which his name was spelled "Tulowizki."
But it was the other New York team that added even more intrigue to the Tulo rumors. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported that the Mets have reached out to the Rockies about the 29-year-old, saying that the club is "prepared to offer top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard in a deal for" Tulowitzki. That would be a nice start to a package, but the Mets would certainly need to add a couple more top tier prospects or major league pieces to get the shortstop to change his address. And it's possible no deal will convince the Rockies to trade Tulowitzki -- a report later Monday said the club has no plans of moving their superstar.
Another player going through the "is he, isn't he" moving game is Matt Kemp. After rumors surfaced Sunday that Kemp's name had come up in talks with the Red Sox, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reported Monday that the Sox are "not looking to trade for" the outfielder. The Dodgers are serious about trying to unload Kemp, though, so they'll continue to shop him in the coming days. Any team that acquires the 29-year-old will either be taking on a bulky $107 million contract or will have to give up something of value for the Dodgers to eat a large portion of that money.
Cole Hamels' name is one that entered the conversation on Monday, but the Phillies aren't going to give him away. It seems like a long shot that he'll be moved anytime soon. The same goes for David Price, it seems, as he becomes increasingly less likely to be traded with each game the Rays win. The three Astros starting pitchers with any trade value -- Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Jarred Cosart -- are also not likely to be moved, but Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is said to be listening anyway.
Some other quick notes: along with Jon Lester, the Red Sox are said to be open to dealing John Lackey; the Diamondbacks are willing to talk about Addison Reed, who they just acquired over the winter; the Marlins have interest in Tommy Milone, but the Athletics are still without incentive to deal the lefty; and the Blue Jays did make a minor move, acquiring Danny Valencia from the Royals in exchange for Liam Hendriks and Erik Kratz. Valencia will man the hot corner until Brett Lawrie is ready to return.
The Nationals, who played much of the season without Bryce Harper and are currently missing Ryan Zimmerman for an extended period of time, received another scare Monday when Jayson Werth left the game against the Marlins with an ankle injury.
Werth sustained a sprained right ankle sliding into second base in the seventh inning. The injury looked bad in real time, but Werth said after the game that he was hopeful to be able to play in Tuesday's game. Even so, Werth said he won't know much until then.
"I won't know [how bad it is] until I wake up tomorrow," Werth told MLB.com. "It will probably be a little sore. I'm going to try to play. I expect to play, but it could be sore.
"It's one of those things. The first time you sprain your ankle, it's the worst. ... I wasn't real sure at first. I wasn't feeling a whole lot better right away. They got me out of there to get some ice on it. Hopefully, I'll be available tomorrow."
It wouldn't be a surprise if Nate McLouth, who replaced Werth on Monday, got the start in right field Tuesday as the Nats play it safe with the 35-year-old. Werth owners in daily leagues should check on the Nationals lineup Tuesday afternoon to be sure.
National League Quick Hits: Brandon Belt passed a concussion test on Monday, a big step in his return to the field. Belt should soon resume baseball activities, and the first baseman will likely be back with the Giants in a matter of days ... Aaron Hill (hand) is expected back in the starting lineup on Tuesday. Hill made a pinch-hit appearance in Monday's marathon win over the Reds ... Rafael Soriano blew his fifth save in a big way Monday, allowing four runs while recording just one out before being yanked. The Marlins fell a homer shy of the cycle in the four-run inning ... A.J. Pollock (hand) will take live batting practice Tuesday. If that goes as hoped, Pollock will head out on a rehab assignment with an eye on returning to the Diamondbacks in mid-August ... In a duel of pitchers who could be dealt before Thursday's deadline, Bartolo Colon held the Phillies to one run over 7 2/3 innings while A.J. Burnett struggled, giving up seven runs over five. According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Pirates and Braves had scouts at the game. Which pitcher they came to see -- if not both -- is still unclear.
American League Quick Hits: With a 3-for-4 night, Derek Jeter passed Carl Yastrzemski for seventh place on the all-time hits list. At 3,420, Jeter needs just 10 more to reach Honus Wagner for sixth place ... Coco Crisp was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his neck Monday. The outfielder has been sidelined by the chronic neck injury, and the A's are hoping to hear some good news on Tuesday ... They need it, as the club placed Craig Gentry on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a broken right hand. The speedy but light-hitting Billy Burns was selected to take Gentry's roster spot ... Adam Lind (foot) could be activated from the DL as early as Tuesday. Lind has made good progress since the discovery of a non-displaced fracture in his right foot, so activation appears to be more a matter of timing than health at this point ... Less so for Brett Lawrie, who still hasn't faced live pitching since breaking his finger in late June. Lawrie is hitting off a tee, though, a step in the right direction ... Neftali Feliz earned his second save in two attempts since taking over as closer following Joakim Soria's departure, but he has yet to strike out a batter in either of his two saves. The right-hander has four strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings this year ... Mark Teixeira (lat) remained out of the Yankees lineup on Monday. The first baseman has been out since Saturday, but he did get a pinch-hit single in the game. All signs point to a return in the next day or two.