Shohei Ohtani hasn't quite been himself in his last two starts for the LA Angels. Now, it's important to remember that it's just two starts of nine on the season, but it's also worth pointing out that something could very well be off in his arm or his head. He'll bounce back Tuesday night for sure--remember his last outing against the Red Sox?
For now, however, it's worth considering if Ohtani's back is impacting him. Two starts ago against the Toronto Blue Jays, ShoTime struggled. While he only walked one and did strikeout 10, he unfortunately surrendered five earned runs on six innings pitched. After the game, it was revealed that Ohtani's back was bothering him.
He said that it wasn't a big deal, and considering he struck out 10 and only allowed one walk--it was believable. His control was there. In his next start against the Yankees, however, while his control wasn't completely off (only one walk), he didn't look like he had the same stuff.
His velocity was certainly there, but in 75 pitches he only generated three swings and misses. It was the runner-up for the lowest whiff rate of his five-year career.
Shohei Ohtani is still having a good season for the LA Angels.
Regardless of what has been bothering him in these last couple of starts, he's still been performing well for the team. He has a 3.99 ERA and 12.2 K/9 rate. His 1.16 WHIP is still solid, and he's only allowing 2.1 walks per nine innings.
He's been good on the year, but if his arm isn't at 100% at the moment, then something needs to be done about that. After that last start on the mound, Ohtani had played in 50 of the Halos' 51 games this year. Perhaps there's some fatigue involved, and if that's the case it's important for Joe Maddon to make an adjustment.
Perhaps it's important to give Ohtani an off-day the game before he pitches, or maybe an off-day after his start. It maybe could even be worthwhile to not have him hit on the same days he pitches. No matter what it is, if Ohtani's body isn't at full strength, the coaching staff needs to address it.