How should the LA Angels deploy Shohei Ohtani in 2020?
As of today, LA Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani is fully cleared for baseball activities, completing his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Needless to say, this is a huge step.
If the LA Angels are going to get anywhere near the playoffs, they’ll need Shohei Ohtani at full strength. That means Billy Eppler, Joe Maddon, and everyone in the organization need to figure out the best way to utilize the rare talents of Ohtani. So what are the possible routes the Halos can take?
1.) Sunday Shohei
This is an idea Halo Hangout’s own David Peng kicked around when Ohtani first chose Anaheim as his home. The idea is simple: whether the Angels have to use an extra pitcher during the week or not, Sunday’s are the days Shohei Ohtani pitches.
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Monday is the most common off day in the MLB, and since Ohtani didn’t DH the day after pitching, they’d be able to use him more often. The Angels would use a rotation around him, simply pushing back starters’ days if they land on Sunday.
2.) Six-Man Rotation
This is how the Angels chose to use Ohtani during his rookie season. There are some benefits, as it allows pitchers to have a set schedule and not have the risk of starts being pushed back two days at times. The downside is obviously losing Ohtani’s abilities at the plate more often, but the Angels could decide to continue using him as DH even on days before he starts to maximize his production.
3.) Hitting On Start Days
You can take Joe Maddon out of the National League, but you can’t take the National League out of Joe Maddon. Earlier this month, the new Angels’ skipper hinted the team could potentially forego using the DH on days Ohtani starts. This runs obvious risk, as they’d have to pinch hit for relievers later in games. The Angels have the bats to pull that off, but it makes pitching multiple innings of relief harder. On the opposite end, the upside could be huge by plugging Ohtani into the nine spot, giving a huge boost to the lineup as a whole.
However the Angels do decide to utilize Ohtani in 2020, one thing is for certain. It will be a huge benefit to have the best two-way player in the entire world back on the diamond in Anaheim, and makes the idea of a playoff push much easier to dream about.