LA Angels News

Shohei Ohtani has best day as a hitter. Should he be playing more?

By David Rice
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 04: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim flies out against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at Progressive Field on August 4, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 3-0. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 04: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim flies out against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at Progressive Field on August 4, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 3-0. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /
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The Angels needed a lift having lost four in a row.  Enter Shohei Ohtani. The Japanese phenom hadn’t played in the last two games, but he was inserted in the third spot in the line-up for the first time this season.

When Shohei Ohtani came to the plate in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians and drove a a Mike Clevenger pitch to left-center and over the high wall for a two-run homer giving the Angels an early 2-0 lead.  After Cleveland scored three runs to take the lead, Ohtani came up in the third inning sent a mammoth blast to right center that travelled nearly 450 feet and tied the game at three.

With his second homer, Ohtani became the first Japanese player to hit two homers in a game since Ichiro Suzuki did it back 2011.  Ohtani wasn’t done though as he led off the eighth inning in a tie game, with a single to left field.  Ohtani promptly stole second base his third steal of the season. Two batters later fellow rookie David Fletcher drove Ohtani in with an RBI-double giving the Angels a 4-3 lead. The Angels went on to score three more runs in the inning to take a commanding 7-3 lead.

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When the dust had settled the Angels four-game losing streak was gone with a 7-4 victory. The win also snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Indians. All total Ohtani went for four-for-five with three runs scored and three runs driven in.

The question I pose is one many Angel fans are asking on social media: Why isn’t Shohei Ohtani playing every game, or at least more often than three times a week on average.  Before when Ohtani was pitching as well, this sporadic playing time made sense as Ohtani would not hit the day before or after he was scheduled to pitch.

One reason is the fact the Angels have played a number of games recently against left-handed starters which Ohtani is only hitting .185 against this season with no homers and two RBIs in 54 at-bats. However, with the Angels season being pretty much over, why not give Ohtani to work on this skill by letting him play against lefty starters.  You have nothing to lose by doing so.

Let's reassess the rest of the season. Next

Maybe in the last 40 games of the 2018 season the Angels will start letting Ohtani hit more against lefties and also play more often, or maybe not.  Especially with Ohtani trying to rehab his ailing right elbow the Angels may be trying to be extra cautious with their young star.

We will have to just wait and see.

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