Shohei Ohtani: Did Tuesday’s win earn Ace a new personal catcher?

Shohei Ohtani, Max Stassi, LA Angels. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Shohei Ohtani, Max Stassi, LA Angels. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

Shohei Ohtani has been lights out on the mound this year, but he’s been throwing to the same guy.

After a rough outing last week vs. the New York Yankees, LA Angels Manager Joe Maddon decided to change things up a little bit and have Ohtani not throw to the catcher who he typically throws to.

Maddon had Ohtani throw to Max Stassi on Tuesday night instead of Kurt Suzuki.

Shohei Ohtani pitched a gem after the catching change for the LA Angels.

Shohei Ohtani and the LA Angels came into Tuesday night’s contest playing against not only one of the hottest teams in baseball, but one of the best in the Boston Red Sox.

Maddon liked the matchup of Stassi vs. Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, so he went with Stassi instead of Suzuki.

“They did very well together,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Their creativity was outstanding. And like I said [pregame], I thought Stassi matched up well offensively with [Nathan] Eovaldi. It worked out pretty good and they had a nice little first dance.”

Stassi has been great offensively this season, hitting a line of .312/.390/.523 with six home runs in 36 games.

The decision paid off offensively, as Stassi went three for four with a double and a homer. He drove in two runs, and scored two himself.

On defense, he and Ohtani had some strong chemistry. Ohtani went seven innings, and only gave up two runs. He only struck out four, which was uncharacteristic of Ohtani, but he didn’t walk a single batter all game.

He got through all seven innings in under 90 pitches, so pitching to contact clearly worked out for him against a great offensive team.

While Maddon typically likes Suzuki catching Ohtani, Stassi proved that he’s more than capable of getting the job done. His bat’s been great for the Halos this year, where Suzuki’s has been up and down.

Tuesday’s game shows that Maddon may be better off going with the best player available. Suzuki still provides depth and strong chemistry with Ohtani, however Stassi has been so crucial to the Angels when he’s been healthy, that it’s probably best to go with him whenever possible. That is, of course, unless he cools off.

Shohei Ohtani won AL Player of the Week...Again. Next

Ohtani had an RBI double in the game as well, excelling as a two-way player once again. The Angels will take on the Red Sox one last time in their series finale tonight.