Shohei Ohtani makes his first start of the spring in Mesa, Arizona against the Oakland Athletics. This will be his only start for the Angels in the spring before heading off to the World Baseball Classic. It'll be exciting to watch Ohtani on the big stage, but it's disappointing that the only start of his won't even be televised by the Angels.
Ohtani will be making his first start with the new rules in affect. While I don't expect them to be too much of an issue, there's one thing in particular to pay attention to.
Shohei Ohtani could struggle with the new pitch clock
As great as he is on the mound, Shohei Ohtani took a very long time to deliver pitches. With the new pitch clock in effect, he's going to have to speed that up.
With the bases empty, pitchers are allowed 15 seconds before being required to throw a pitch. If they don't, a ball will be assessed. Ohtani took 20.7 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty last season.
With runners on base, that time goes up to 20 seconds. Ohtani took 26.9 seconds to throw a pitch in those situations. Again, if he takes longer than 20 seconds with runners on, an automatic ball will be assessed.
The Angels have done remarkably well with this new pitch clock, only getting dinged once with Jo Adell not being ready in time in the first game of the spring for one of his at-bats.
Ohtani has adjusted to everything in the past, this is another thing he's going to have to adjust to. I'm not worried about it, it's just something to keep an eye on. We have to hope the increased pace doesn't affect him.