Amidst all of the Gerrit Cole speculation, the LA Angels quietly reported that Shohei Ohtani has been cleared to return to the mound, and that news is just as significant as any other Halo fans will get this offseason.
The Japanese phenom’s return to the mound may seem like typical news, but this is the biggest step for Shohei Ohtani as he continues his rehab. Even better, it appears that following this step, Ohtani will be ready to pitch come Spring Training.
It goes without saying that Shohei Ohtani’s health will be critical for the Angels’ 2020 playoff hopes. Him throwing off a mound several months prior before pitchers and catchers report is an extremely positive progression.
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Now, he gets a full offseason of usual preparation. After he completes the mound rehab, he’ll be shut down for some time and give his arm some time to rest. Then, as Spring Training nears, the same Ohtani we saw take a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Oakland A’s in his second career start will be getting closer and closer.
While there will still be an innings limit on Ohtani in 2020, simply having his presence on both the mound and in the batter’s box will be monumental for the Halos. The 2018 Rookie of the Year
The Angels are looking for an ace in free agency this offseason. It’s their top priority, but don’t let that lead you to believe that Shohei Ohtani can’t pitch well enough to assume that role. However, given his two-way talents, there’s a need for Ohtani’s running mate. Every team in World Series contention has had at least two elite level starters.
Shohei Ohtani is one in the Angels deck of cards. All signs point to the Angels doing whatever it takes to add Gerrit Cole. And more help could be on the way even after that.
But these Angels aren’t going anywhere near the playoffs if Shohei Ohtani isn’t their king. He’s almost ready for his return, and the conquest towards the playoffs for the Angels will need every inning of his elite production that they can get.