The Los Angeles Angels had the worst day a team could have on Wednesday, getting swept in a doubleheader at home against the Reds, and then finding out that both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, the two faces of this franchise, are hurt.
Trout was placed on the 10-day IL with his hand still bothering him. It's frustrating considering he just came back, played one game, and then immediately was IL-bound, but it's also not a huge deal because the Angels are all but out of postseason contention and the injury isn't any worse. The Ohtani injury was the big one.
Shohei tore his UCL and will not pitch for the remainder of the season. It's unclear whether he'll need surgery or not or what the degree of the tear is, but this is obviously very bad news for the impending free agent. Ohtani will likely lose a ton of money because of this, but the injury could also make it more likely that Ohtani chooses to remain an Angel.
Injuries are never good and I wish this never happened but if Ohtani's injury is what gets him to remain in Anaheim, then it's easy to call this somewhat of a blessing in disguise.
1) Shohei Ohtani has already gone through this recovery process with the Angels
Comfort is crucial when a pitcher goes through a long recovery process like Ohtani will have to go through. Whether he undergoes surgery or not, he can't pitch for a while and will have to work very hard to get his arm in shape to hold out.
Ohtani could choose to remain an Angel simply because of the comfort he has with the organization. He should feel comfort because he's gone through this before, and came out of it a better pitcher.
Ohtani made 10 starts in the 2018 season before undergoing Tommy John Surgery after tearing his UCL. He didn't pitch in 2019, made just two starts in 2020, but by 2021 was lighting the league by storm with his performance on the bump and at the plate. Ohtani won the MVP award in 2021, was the runner up in 2022 (including a fourth place finish in the Cy Young balloting), and this season is on his way to a second MVP award while leading the league in ERA+ and batting average against.
Ohtani came back from Tommy John once with this Angels organization and came out an even better player. If he stays here, he can do the same things he did last time and potentially come back and be just fine both as a pitcher and a hitter.
If the Angels have Ohtani feeling comfortable, that should make it more likely he re-signs with the club.