Angels right-hander Shohei Ohtani has been diagnosed with a Grade 1-2 flexor pronator mass strain, the team announced. Ohtani is unlikely to begin throwing for at least four to six weeks. He’s day-to-day as the club’s designated hitter.
Considering the timeline the Angels provided, it doesn’t seem probable that Ohtani will factor into their rotation again this season. With so little time left in the season, a bullpen role might be a best-case scenario. Either way, it’s yet another awful blow to Ohtani’s attempt to become a two-way star in the majors. He has dealt with multiple injuries – including Tommy John surgery – that have limited him to 53 1/3 innings since he emigrated from Japan as a much-ballyhooed prospect prior to the 2017 season.
Ohtani didn’t pitch at all last season after undergoing TJS, and his return from the procedure didn’t go well this year before this latest issue. He made two starts and could only muster a combined 1 2/3 innings, in which the 26-year-old allowed seven earned runs on three hits and eight walks (with three strikeouts). Ohtani’s average fastball also fell below 94 mph, well under the near-97 mph mean he posted as a rookie.
Already off to a dismal 3-7 start this season, the Ohtani news is one of the last things the Angels needed at the 10-game mark. Fortunately for the Halos, there have been bright spots in their starting staff this season in the form of Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning and Andrew Heaney. Some combination of Patrick Sandoval, Matt Andriese and Julio Teheran figure to round out their Ohtani-less rotation.
While the loss of Ohtani takes away a potential front-line starter from their staff, it shouldn’t stop him from factoring in as a DH option. Even when he was recovering from TJS last year, Ohtani turned in a solid .286/.343/.505 line with 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases across 425 plate appearances. He’s off to a rough start at the plate this year, though, having batted .148/.179/.407 with a pair of HRs in 28 PA.