Two-way star Shohei Ohtani expressed discomfort in his right arm following today’s start against the Astros, per various reporters (including Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com). He’s been sent in for an MRI, the results of which have not yet come back.
There’s surely hope disaster will be avoided. But it’s tough not to be at least somewhat alarmed. Ohtani worked his way back to the mound this season following October 2018 Tommy John surgery. Yet he certainly hasn’t looked as dominant as he’d been.
Ohtani battled control problems throughout Summer Camp, and his two regular-season starts have been unmitigated disasters. He’s walked eight of sixteen batters faced, allowing seven runs in 1.2 innings along the way. Perhaps more worrisome, Ohtani’s velocity plummeted by the end of today’s outing, Bollinger points out (via Twitter). While he touched his customary 97 MPH at one point, his fastball was into the 89-90 MPH range before he departed, Bollinger notes. Of course, that could simply reflect fatigue at the end of a long, stressful inning or mere minor discomfort.
There’s little overstating the 26-year-old’s general importance in Anaheim. He’s proven an elite hitter since coming over from NPB. Even as he worked his way back to pitching from surgery, he didn’t miss a beat at the plate. He was similarly brilliant on the mound over his first 10 MLB starts (3.31 ERA/3.57 FIP in 51.2 innings), making him a key member of an uncertain Angels’ rotation. Surely, the hope remains his body will enable him to regain that remarkable form.