Oct. 1: Ohtani’s surgery was performed today, tweets Maria Guardado of MLB.com.
Sept. 25: Angels starter and DH Shohei Ohtani will undergo Tommy John surgery next week, the club announced to reporters including Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter). While the outcome was expected, it’s nevertheless significant for a player who has emerged this year as an unprecedented dual threat.
Renowned surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the procedure. Ohtani will almost certainly not return to the mound until the 2020 season. Of course, the expectation is that he will continue to function as a hitter for the Angels in 2019.
It’s extremely disappointing to see Ohtani’s first season in the majors draw to a close with surgery awaiting. That said, his continued excellence as a hitter since being shut down as a pitcher certainly leaves plenty of cause for continued excitement, even during his TJ rehab.
Ohtani will be ready to hit far before he’s ready to pitch, of course, so he and the Halos anticipate that he’ll be a full part of the roster next season. (Whether he’ll be ready by Opening Day is, however, not yet certain.) Once he’s ready to do both, Angels GM Billy Eppler recently made clear, he’ll go right back to functioning as a hybrid weapon unlike any other in baseball.
Of course, it’s also worth remembering that damage to Ohtani’s ulnar collateral ligament was evident before he joined the Angels over the winter. When new damage arose in the middle of the 2018 season, Ohtani tried a surgical alternative. But he went down again after ramping back up, making TJS an all-but-foregone outcome.
Ohtani is still putting the finishing touches on his season at the plate, but currently sports an eye-popping .280/.361/.564 slash with 21 home runs in 347 plate appearances. While he only has ten MLB starts under his belt, the 24-year-old has shown ample ability in that area as well. Through 51 2/3 innings, he posted a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts against 22 walks.
With Ohtani on the shelf, and Garrett Richards slated for free agency after another Tommy John surgery of his own the Angels’ rotation is now officially on the look for significant help. The top rotation options heading out of the 2018 season appear to be Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, and Jaime Barria.