3:40pm: Angels GM Billy Eppler provided further details on the situation, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter links). Ohtani reported elbow stiffness after being removed from his most recent start for a blister, prompting the medical review. When asked whether Ohtani can avoid Tommy John surgery, Eppler responded: “We’re hopeful that he can, that it is completely treatable with the biologic prescription the doctors recommended.”
2:03pm: In an alarming announcement, the Angels revealed today that right-hander Shohei Ohtani has been placed on the 10-day DL with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He’s already received platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections, per the Angels, and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
The move comes as a brutal blow to an Angels staff that is without Matt Shoemaker indefinitely and without J.C. Ramirez for the balance of the season. It was reported shortly after Ohtani signed with the Angels that the young phenom had a Grade 1 sprain of his UCL when teams were courting him this offseason. Every organization was made aware of that information, and it obviously did little to dissuade clubs from embarking on an elaborate and high-profile courtship of the former NPB sensation. He also received a PRP injection for that injury at the time.
The preexisting elbow damage was either minimal enough or had healed to the point that Ohtani was able to pitch throughout Spring Training and quickly enter super-stardom in his first two months with the Halos. Not only has the 23-year-old pitched to a pristine 3.10 ERA with 11.1 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9 in 49 1/3 innings, he’s also been one of the Angels’ best hitters. In 129 plate appearances, Ohtani has raked at a .289/.372/.535 pace with six homers, eight doubles and a triple. He’s walked at an 11.6 percent clip against a 25.6 percent strikeout rate, and he’s even stolen a base in his lone attempt.
With Ohtani out of commission for at least the foreseeable future, the Angels will have Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano, Jaime Barria and Parker Bridwell as rotation options. But any more significant absence for Ohtani, coupled with significant recent injury histories for a number of the currently-healthy members of the Angels’ rotation mix, could push the Angels out into the market for rotation upgrades later this summer. Despite their excellent 35-28 record, the Angels find themselves 4.5 games back of the surprising Mariners in the American League West, and they’re 3.5 games out of an AL Wild Card spot at present.