With the 2021 season having come to a close, we are looking back at the year that was for members of the Texas Rangers.
Today we are looking at pitcher Glenn Otto.
His name is Glenn Otto.
I don’t know if he loves to get blotto. Probably no more than the average male in his mid-20s.
Acquired from the New York Yankees in the Joey Gallo trade, Glenn Otto is one of a collection of young, major league ready arms the Rangers have that could maybe be starters, are more likely relievers, but who really knows what will happen, the universe is probabilistic and so anything that can happen, does happen somewhere in the multiverse.
Otto was born in Spring, Texas, but went to high school in Tomball, and really, I think those two places are essentially the same. I have a friend who comes from one of those two places — I don’t know which, really, because when I make fun of Spring she gets mad and says she’s from Spring, and when I make fun of Tomball she gets mad and says she’s from Tomball.
At one point in my life I used to say that every crazy person I knew was either from Spring, Killeen or Fort Worth. I have met crazy people since then who are from other places, but I do think those three cities generate a disproportionate number of crazy people.
In any case, Tomball and Spring are both suburbs in the northern part of Harris County, and upon graduating, Otto took his talents down 249 or 45, or maybe the Hardy Toll Road, landing at Rice University. Otto spent three years as a reliever for Rice, with a lot of Ks and a lot of walks, and a disappointing junior season following a sophomore year where he was ridden heavily, after which he was drafted in the 5th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees.
A blood clot in his shoulder limited Otto in 2018, but he had a nice 2019 season at high-A, as well as a solid stint in the AFL. 2020 was wiped out, of course, meaning Otto entered 2021 having thrown just 115 innings as a pro.
Otto made a leap in 2021, however, due primarily to a slider he added this year, which became his best pitch. Otto already had a serviceable curveball, so the addition of the slider gave him a pair of breaking balls to go with his four seam fastball. His ability to command his pitches well allowed him to excel in the minors in 2021, ultimately earning him a spot on the major league roster for the Rangers in late August.
Otto made six starts in the bigs in 2021 — three were solid, and three were disasters, with the upshot being Otto ended the year with a 9.26 ERA in the majors, albeit with a 5.26 xERA and a 3.17 FIP. Otto’s best start was his debut, when he went 5 innings, throwing 57 strikes in 73 pitches, allowing 0 runs on 2 hits and 0 walks while striking out 7.
The difference between Otto’s good outings and his bad outings for the Rangers was basically an issue of command — when Otto commanded the ball well, he had success, and when he didn’t command the ball well, he got hammered. At the risk of oversimplifying things, if Otto can stay healthy and command the ball well, he’ll likely be able to stick in the rotation. If he can’t, he won’t.
Prior to 2021 Otto was seen as a likely reliever, though the addition of the slider and the backing up of his velocity makes that less likely, both because his repertoire now makes it more likely he can stick in the rotation, and the lower velocity on his fastball makes a relief role more problematic for him (though it may be the velocity would tick back up in the pen). Otto is one of a number of young Ranger pitchers who will be getting a chance this spring for some kind of role in the majors — he could break camp in the major league rotation, he could break camp in the major league bullpen, or he could start the year in AAA as part of the Express rotation, and none of those outcomes would be at all surprising.