Shohei Ohtani's pitching season has been very up and down for the Los Angeles Angels. He started it as hot as ever, posting a 0.64 ERA through his first five starts. The caveat to those starts is they all came against teams deemed to be average at best.
Once the competition got better, Ohtani started to struggle. The right-hander posted a 4.88 ERA in his next eight starts, struggling with his command and giving up far too many home runs.
His last start saw Ohtani out-duel AL Cy Young contender Nathan Eovaldi in a big Angels win, and his most recent start might suggest that Ohtani has found his groove again.
Shohei Ohtani's best start of the season is encouraging sign for LA Angels fans
For about a month and a half, Ohtani did not look like the ace Angels fans were accustomed to. The team was still winning most of his starts, but Ohtani wasn't quite as dominant. Even in his start in Texas he only struck out three, but was able to battle through six innings.
Much of Ohtani's struggles have come in first innings of games. Ohtani has struggled with his command early which has forced him to throw a ton of pitches and show the opponent his full repetoire. While a 3.60 first inning ERA isn't horrible, he's walked 14 batters in 15 first innings this season.
To see Ohtani look as dominant as he did in the first inning last night, striking out two batters and throwing just 12 pitches signalled the Dodgers were in for a long night.
Ohtani was masterful, making only one mistake to Freddie Freeman which he paid for. Ohtani allowed the one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out 12 batters in his first career start against their crosstown rivals.
77 of Ohtani's 101 pitches were for strikes as he was in command of the zone all night. His fastball was electric, and his breaking pitches were located all night.
Last season, Ohtani posted a 3.64 ERA through his first 10 starts. He pitched well against the Mariners to lower that ERA in his 11th start, but the start after that, on June 22, is when Shohei really broke out. Eight scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and one walk to go along with 13 strikeouts in a victory against the Royals was the true start of Ohtani's dominant run.
Can Ohtani be starting his Cy Young surge right now just like he did last season? We can only hope. Seeing Ohtani dominate the Dodgers was certainly a good start.