The Rangers’ rotation, which struggled through the 2022 campaign, is a major point of emphasis as the team looks to reshape itself as a contender this offseason. The Rangers ranked tenth in the American League in quality start percentage (31 percent) and 13th in innings pitched by starting pitchers. Only two Rangers who made more than ten starts finished with a final ERA under four (Jon Gray at 3.96 and Martin Perez at 2.89). Let’s look at one starter who didn’t quite meet these thresholds: Glenn Otto.
There’s evidence to suggest that Glenn Otto can take a step forward next year.
Glenn Otto was one of four prospects who came over to the Rangers in the July 2021 deadline deal that sent Joey Gallo to the Yankees. At the time, there were concerns about Otto’s ability to keep the ball in the strike zone. Scouts were impressed by his fastball and curveball but thought his command could limit his overall effectiveness.
Glenn Otto got a taste of pitching at the big-league level in 2021, but his first extended stay in the majors came during the 2022 season. Otto made the third-most starts (27) and threw the third-most innings (135.2) of any Rangers pitcher in 2022.
Glenn Otto had his ups and downs as a member of the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation in 2022
The results were a mixed bag. He finished with a 7-10 record and a 4.64 ERA. As his scouting report suggested might be the case, walks were a significant issue. Otto finished tied for the 10th-most walks of any pitcher in the majors last year at 62. Fellow rotation mate Dane Dunning also walked 62 hitters, as did former Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray. The difference is that Ray pitched nearly 50 more innings than Otto.
Keep in mind that stats don’t always tell the whole story. 2022 was Otto’s first full season in the big leagues. As a rookie, Otto made more starts than any Rangers rookie pitcher since Yu Darvish in 2012. This hardly feels like a fair comparison since Darvish made 167 starts between 2005 and 2011 while pitching professionally in Japan. Otto also threw more innings than any Rangers rookies since Nick Martinez in 2014, who better fit the profile of a traditional rookie.
It’s fair to expect an up-and-down performance for a starting pitcher who is cutting their teeth at the highest level for the first time, and Otto’s 2022 season wasn’t pretty at times. At the All-Start break, Otto was allowing nearly five walks per inning and had an ERA of 5.4. It certainly didn’t help that he missed two weeks during June while on the COVID-19 injured list.
What’s encouraging is to look at how Otto improved throughout the season. His second-half ERA was 4.01, representing a decrease of nearly one and a half runs from his first-half ERA. Otto pitched 74 innings in the second half compared to 61.2 innings in the first half, so the improved ERA also reflects a larger sample size.
Walks were still an issue, although Otto was able to take steps forward during the final stretch of the season. He surrendered 13 walks during a three-start stretch between August 10th and August 20th, but didn’t allow more than two walks during any of his final eight starts. Otto’s command was a point of emphasis for Rangers’ interim manager Tony Beasley after he took over for Chris Woodward in mid-August. Based on Otto’s performance down the stretch, it seems like the message was well received.
The question now is whether or not Otto’s run of success could continue into 2023. He won’t enter Spring Training with a guaranteed spot in the rotation. Depending on who the Rangers add from the outside, Otto will likely compete with other young starters like Dane Dunning and Cole Ragans (and new addition Jake Odorizzi) for the final spot. It’s unlikely that Glenn Otto will ever have the pure stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. However, if his improved command is a sign of things to come, he could certainly eat innings and keep the Rangers in games as the team looks to take a major step forward next year.