The LA Angels named Shohei Ohtani their 2022 Opening Day starter on Friday. It was a decision that needed to be made, but was in a little bit of doubt due to Noah Syndergaard being signed by the Halos early in the offseason. While Thor may have a terrific season in his first with the Angels, this was the correct move.
While Syndergaard at his peak is about as unhittable as anyone, we haven't seen him perform at that Ace level since 2018. He regressed a little bit in 2019, and has only thrown two innings in the last two years. It's no reason to panic--he's had just one down year (that was still a decent year), and Ohtani only pitched 1.2 innings in two years at one point and then had the greatest season in sports history.
The Angels know how to handle his injury, but it's just that Ohtani has been the better pitcher more recently. Last year, Ohtani started the All-Star Game on the rubber. He was so dominant that they changed the rules to allow him to do that when he was already voted in to start as the Designated Hitter. Now, the 'Shohei Ohtani rule' allows him to both pitch and hit all game, even when he leaves the mound. He was so dominant as a two-way player last year that the league had to change the rules. Of course you need both his bat AND arm on Opening Day.
Shohei Ohtani is going to dominate on LA Angels' Opening Day.
LA Angels' Ace Shohei Ohtani, the 2021 unanimous AL MVP, led the Angels in innings last year and posted a 9-2 record. He had no run support (or lineup protection for that matter, but that's a different story) yet still put the team on his back and led them to wins when he was out there.
The best part about Ohtani on the mound is that as his record pointed out, he doesn't need things to be perfect around him to win. He retires batters by himself anyways, as well, as he struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings last season. Recording a 3.18 ERA last year, he established himself as one of the best pitchers in the world.
The Angels have a guy who posted a 141 ERA+ in 2021 hit the mound on Opening Day come April 7th. It's hard to do much better than that. Not to mention, he's the best offensive weapon in the game too. He can play offensively as long as he wants now with the rule change, and is ready to get the job done in front of our home fans.