It was revealed earlier this week that the Angels will go without the pitching of two-way star Shohei Ohtani until at least the middle of May. It’s not wholly unsurprising that Ohtani won’t be ready at the start of 2020. After all, he’s on the mend from a rather serious surgical procedure – the dreaded Tommy John – that he underwent in October 2018. Considering his value to the franchise, there’s no need for the Angels to rush Ohtani back if they’re not fully confident in his health.
All that said, it’s disappointing that Ohtani has pitched so few innings since the Angels brought him over from Japan prior to 2018. The latest news is especially damaging when considering that the team hasn’t added a front-line starter since last season, even though expectations were that it would pick up at least one over the winter. The Angels, stuck in a five-year playoff drought, did get Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran, but they’re more back-end innings-eaters than standouts. On the other hand, Ohtani has the ability to produce No. 1- or 2-type numbers for the club this year, but it’s obvious it’ll be over an abbreviated amount of innings.
The lack of frames Ohtani has racked up since he joined the Angels is no doubt a letdown – not that it’s his fault. He came to the majors as one of the most ballyhooed international free agents ever – someone often called the Japanese Babe Ruth – and has not faltered when healthy. Ohtani tossed 51 2/3 innings of 3.31 ERA/3.57 FIP ball with 10.97 K/9 and 3.83 BB/9 as a major league rookie, averaging just under 97 mph on his fastball along the way. It was a dazzling display overall, and Ohtani truly showed what he’s capable of when he threw seven scoreless, one-hit innings of 12-strikeout ball against the Athletics in his second career start.
Ohtani remained really good through his initial season, though injuries were an issue, thus limiting him to two major league pitching appearances from the start of June through the end of the year. We haven’t been treated to Ohtani the pitcher since Sept. 2, 2018, and we’ll have to wait at least a few more months to get another look at that aspect of his game.
Fortunately for the Angels and baseball in general, Ohtani’s no one-trick pony. He’s also quite an offensive player, having slashed .286/.351/.532 (136 wRC+) with 40 home runs and 22 stolen bases in 792 plate appearances since he emigrated from his homeland.
At the very least, the 25-year-old Ohtani is in line to help the Angels as a designated hitter throughout the entirety of the upcoming campaign. But how much of an impact do you think he’ll make as a hurler when he officially returns from surgery? Vote in the polls below…
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