LA Angels believe Shohei Ohtani is set for bounce-back from dreadful 2020 season
By Daniel Preciado
Angels pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani has had a rough go of things the past two seasons, but the organization is keeping faith in him.
When Shohei Ohtani came over from the Nippon Ham Fighters of the NPB in Japan a few seasons ago, he was expected to be an immediate sensation. His rookie season was fantastic, but since then, Ohtani has been an oft-injured player and when he was been on the field, has largely disappointed.
The two-way sensation had a dreadful 2020 season on both sides of the baseball. He posted a measly 84 wRC+ and 0.1 WAR across 46 games on the offensive side. Ohtani made just two starts in 2020, surrendering seven earned runs across just 1 2/3 innings. Brutal. We all know Ohtani is better than that, but he needs to show it and soon.
Ohtani has only managed to pitch 53 1/3 innings in his big league career with only 1 2/3 innings since his 2018 rookie season. His bat will come around given how hard he hits the ball, evidenced by an average exit velocity above the 90th percentile in the past few seasons.
In a recent interview with Angels manager Joe Maddon, Maddon expressed that the organization is keeping total faith in Ohtani’s ability on the mound and will look to him to be in their Opening Day rotation. In addition, Maddon also stated that the team will continue to utilize a six-man rotation to accommodate the Japanese sensation.
The Angels need Shohei Ohtani to be on his A-game in 2021 if they want any chance to contend. Ohtani is pretty much the x-factor of the upcoming season. The Halos know they can count on Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon for offensive production, but they need to have Ohtani’s bat firing on all cylinders when the season rolls around. On the pitching side, they need all the help they can get. If Ohtani can pitch like an ace similar to his 2018 production, the rotation might be in better shape than anticipated.
The main things the Angels need out of Shohei Ohtani are consistency, health, and dependability. While he hasn’t shown that across three major league seasons, he has beyond the necessary talent level and youth to turn the tide.