LA Angels: What are the expectations for Shohei Ohtani as a pitcher?

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images) /
Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Ahead of his first start on Sunday against the White Sox, all eyes will be on Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. You’re not going to find many players of his talents, but how realistic should his expectations be?

The Halos have lacked a dominant starter in recent years, so to see someone who throws as hard as Ohtani is a breath of fresh air. While he’s more than capable of putting the team on his back, I don’t think anyone should label him with Babe Ruth expectations.

Shohei Ohtani Career Pitching Statistics:

  • 2018 (10 starts): (4-2, 3.31 ERA) 51.2 IP 11 K/9 1.161
  • 2019: DNP-Tommy John Surgery
  • 2020 (2 starts): (0-1) 1.2 IP 7 ER 3 H  8 BB 3 K
  • 2021 (Spring Training-4 starts): 10.1 IP 14 ER 15 H 10 BB 17 K

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This is a pitcher who has thrown 1.2 innings in two starts since the 2018 season. The most important thing for Ohtani right now is to get comfortable being back on the mound after a forearm injury ended his time as a pitcher in 2020.

Shohei Ohtani should not be expected to single-handedly carry Angels pitching.

Factor in being a productive designated hitter and that makes things more difficult.

That’s not to say he can’t be dominant and fans shouldn’t be excited. It’s not often you see a player who can hit 450-plus foot home runs while throwing 100 MPH. However, I think the expectations of an AL Cy Young season are a bit much with his circumstances. He needs to prove he can stay healthy for a full-162 game season, and then the Halos can go from there.

Manager Joe Maddon has emphasized the Angels will not restrict Ohtani in as a pitcher or hitter, but the coaching staff will closely monitor him. Nobody knows their limits better than Ohtani, so this will be the best practice rather than making predetermined decisions.

Next. The Angels need to extend Dylan Bundy

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First pitch between the Halos and White Sox on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball is set for 5:37pm (PT) from Angel Stadium.