Shohei Ohtani looked absolutely nothing like his usual self when he took the mound for the LA Angels in Game 1 of their doubleheader against the New York Yankees on Thursday. He gave up four earned runs in three-plus innings while only striking out a pair and surrendering three(!) home runs.
Not only that, but he also forced just three whiffs on the day. Three whiffs in 75 pitches. That was the second-lowest whiff rate on his career. Something looked off.
It was perhaps his back issue that was bothering him in his last start, but it really couldn't have been because he stayed in the game offensively and started the next game as the DH again. FS1 baseball analyst and ShoTime superfan Ben Verlander, however, called it out when he saw it:
The Yankees must have found a way to find that Shohei Ohtani was tipping pitches.
The New York Yankees have been the best team in baseball this year, so it's no surprise that it's them of all teams to read potential pitch tipping on Shohei Ohtani. The Yanks left that first outing of the doubleheader 35-15, which was the best record in baseball.
Joe Maddon also suspects the same from the savvy Yankees. After the game, he made it clear that he not only noticed something peculiar about the bats against Ohtani, but he also knows that the Yankees tend to be able to read pitchers particularly well:
Of course, as Maddon and Verlander made clear; the Yankees are not cheating, but doing an excellent job of reading Ohtani. It shows how high their baseball IQ's clearly must be. And after Ohtani came out, Verlander felt like his suspicions were even more proven:
Regardless, Ohtani hasn't looked like himself these last couple of outings. Still, though, Ohtani has a 3.99 ERA and 1.16 WHIP--he's been solid on the mound and will find his rhythm again soon. He plays Boston in his next start. Anyone remember how his last start against Boston went?