The LA Angels are in a tough spot right now. They are close enough to make a run at the wild-card race, far enough away that the likelihood of catching the Seattle Mariners is small.
The LA Angels got word Thursday that Shohei Ohtani elbow is progressing to the point where he can start throwing again. This does not mean he is ready to come back and pitch just yet, but it is a positive step in the right direction. The question then becomes, should the Angels push Ohtani to return this season as a pitcher as well?
We all love to watch Shohei Ohtani pitch and hit, but if something were to happen to Ohtani that could sideline him for all of next season and possibly longer it would be much worse. However, I’m sure with all that has happened `to `the Angels with injuries over the past few seasons they are being extra cautious with Ohtani. They will not let him pitch unless they believe he is fully healed.
The addition of Ohtani who is 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA striking out 61 batters in only 49 innings and has a WHIP of 1.14 would definitely infuse some life into the team and the fans as well. It will also help lessen the blow of losing Garrett Richards to a UCL injury to his elbow. However again I ask is it worth the risk to let Ohtani come back and itch this season.
There was already a buzz when Ohtani came back as a hitter and he has helped the Angels win a few big games. Imagine if he returns to the mound as well. Every start he pitched at Angel Stadium was close to a sellout. If the only motivating factor of pushing Ohtani to return is to boost attendance then that is not a good reason. I don’t believe the Angels are that desperate or that self-serving that they would risk Ohtani’s future to fill the seats.
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At the plate Ohtani has hit .283 with seven homers and 22 RBIs and .365 OBP with two stolen bases. Ohtani was cleared to resume hitting and was activated on July 3rd. In his fourth game back Ohtani worked a two-out walk from Dodger closer Kanley Jansen then stole second and went to third on a bad throw. David Fletcher then drove Ohtani in to tie the score and later scored on a single by Ian Kinsler and an error by Yasiel Puig to give the Angels an improbable 3-2 victory.
A couple of games after that Ohtani pinch-hit and cracked a game-winning solo homer to center to give the Angels a 4-3 victory over the Dodgers to take the series. Ohtani has definitely been a lift to the Angels with his hitting and would be on the mound as well.
We will see how Ohtani’s rehab goes over the next few weeks and see if he indeed can comeback on the mound as well. In this time period we will see if the Angels can close the gap and become legitimate contenders for the second wild-card spot. If this does happen the likelihood of the Angels allowing Ohtani to pitch when he is ready will increase. However, if the Angels have fallen further behind in the wild-card race the smart thing to do is to shut Ohtani for the rest of the season.
Follow Halo Hangout as we will have the latest Ohtani update if he is cleared to pitch again.