It is no secret that the Tampa Bay Rays are an unpopular MLB team, so it is to no one’s surprise when a Rays player goes almost completely overlooked in fantasy baseball. When the club traded James Shields to the Kansas City Royals prior to the 2013 campaign, the main chip they received in return was Wil Myers, but also included in that trade was RHP Jake Odorizzi, who is having a strong season and is worth picking up on the waiver wire.
Odorizzi, 24, was a first-round draft pick in 2008 for the Milwaukee Brewers, but was traded along with many others to Kansas City for Zack Greinke in 2010. Prior to the 2014 season, Odorizzi had only made six career starts in his short career, and got an opportunity to start with the Rays due to the clubs devastating pitching injuries they endured to start the season (Alex Cobb, Matt Moore) and Odorizzi has never looked back.
Through 21 starts thus far in 2014, Odorizzi has gone 7-8, but that is more of a testament to the club’s struggles early on. He has pitched to a solid 3.80 ERA, 1.284 WHIP and has struck out 129 batters in 113.2 innings, good for a dazzling 10.2 K/9 ratio — which is fifth in the majors of all qualified starting pitchers behind Max Scherzer (fourth) and ahead of Chris Sale (sixth). These are impressive names to be lumped in with, and they prove Odorizzi is truly having an underrated rookie campaign.
Currently, Odorizzi is available in 69 percent of ESPN leagues and 62 percent on Yahoo!, which means the majority of fantasy owners are undervaluing him and the Rays who have been on a tear lately. You should not, and instead pick him up on the waiver wire confidently.