The Angels (13-13) were shut out for the first time this season in a 2-0 loss to the Mariners (16-13) on Sunday. Adding insult to injury was two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani taking a 93-mph fastball to his right elbow in his first plate appearance.
The hit by pitch comes one day before Ohtani is set to make his next scheduled start against the Rays on Monday.
Angels: Shohei Ohtani is questionable for his next start after getting hit in the elbow.
Ohtani was noticeably in pain, but he stayed in the game and finished his day 0-for-3 at the plate. The hit by pitch didn’t stop Ohtani from being aggressive. The 26-year-old stole second base on the very next pitch, and stole third base during the next at bat. Ohtani’s six stolen bases are the most on the Halos and the fifth-most swipes in the majors.
Angels manager Joe Maddon says the team won’t know Ohtani’s availability to pitch until some time tomorrow.
"“He’s sore,” Maddon said. “He’s being looked at right now. I talked to him during the course of the game. I don’t know how sore it’s gonna be tonight, or tomorrow morning, so that’ll be something we have to look at regarding him pitching tomorrow. But it’s too early to tell that right now.”"
The good news is Ohtani staying in the game means there was no type of structural damage to worry about a long-term injury. Similar to Mike Trout’s hit by pitch, also with his elbow, there’s a chance it could swell and affect Ohtani’s range of motion. It’s early in the season, and Ohtani is far too valuable for the Angels to risk putting him on the field if he doesn’t feel right.
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There is of course the ‘no limits’ approach Maddon and his coaching staff have taken with Ohtani, meaning they don’t put restrictions on his preparations. However, they emphasized monitoring his health as the season goes along. Maddon said Ohtani was not entirely truthful with his blister earlier this season as he insisted he was fine, so I would not be surprised if they exercise caution with this situation.
Ohtani has pitched to a 3.29 ERA, 3.97 FIP, and 15.1 K/9 through 13.2 innings pitched this season. His command needs some work, as his 8.6 BB/9 rate shows, but there have been plenty of positives with Ohtani on the mound. This is a player coming off major injuries which has limited him to just five starts (three this season) since 2018. The most important thing for Ohtani is to regain that comfort of pitching at a high level.
It’s for this reason I don’t believe he should be appointed as the savior for the starting rotation. Angels starters have pitched to the worst ERA in baseball and with the exception of Griffin Canning, they have an experienced group of starters. There’s no reason to put pressure on Ohtani to carry the team when he needs to focus on building up his arm for a full 162-game season.
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Hopefully Ohtani can take the mound tomorrow because there’s no denying how exciting he is to watch. It seems like every chance he takes the field there’s a chance he can make some type of baseball history.
If Ohtani can’t go on Monday, left-hander Jose Quintana will likely make the start.