A strength of this Los Angeles Angels team was supposed to be its starting rotation. Led by Shohei Ohtani, a guy who was in the Cy Young conversation last season, from top to bottom this rotation felt as formidable as it had been in years.
The Angels were sixth in rotation ERA last season in all of baseball, an unexpected development for a staff that included three youngsters. These three young left-handers were in the Opening Day rotation this season poised to continue developing, but you can argue all three took a step back.
Overall, the Angels rank tied for 23rd in baseball in rotation ERA this season. A major step back from where they were. The teams this Angels rotation rank ahead of are the Cardinals, Tigers, Royals, Reds, Athletics, and Rockies. There's one good team on this list. It's no surprise the Angels are under .500 with a rotation like this. Hopefully, we see some growth in the second half like we did last season.
LA Angels starting pitcher first half grade: Shohei Ohtani
When doing this, we're going to look at just Ohtani's pitching. Obviously, his hitting has been otherworldly this season, but Ohtani's pitching has taken a step back from where it was last season.
Ohtani's season pitching couldn't have started much better as he had an ERA of 0.64 through his first five starts. He had allowed just two runs in 28 innings pitched and despite some early-season control issues, Ohtani looked unhittable.
After that great start, Ohtani had an eight-start stretch in which he was unrecognizable on the bump. He had an ERA of 4.88 in 48 innings pitched, allowing a whopping 11 home runs. Ohtani had never allowed more than 15 home runs in a single season, and here he was allowing 11 in eight starts.
Ohtani had three straight solid starts, allowing just four runs in 19.1 innings of work before struggling his last time out in San Diego. Ohtani allowed five runs in just five innings before leaving with a blister. He gave up two more home runs, and has given up 14 longballs in his first 17 starts of the season.
Despite an elevated home run and walk rate, Ohtani has still been mostly good. A 3.32 ERA isn't bad, even if it isn't Ohtani-like. Expect him to kick things in gear in the second half.