Shohei Ohtani made his 2023 debut on Thursday, March 30th and looked like he is going to pick up right where he left off last season. He only gave up 2 hits and struck out 10 within 6 innings of work. This could be a preview of what is to come as the Los Angeles Angels are showcasing him as the ace of the staff.
Ohtani was impressive yet again last season as he was in 4th place for CY Young votes as he posted a 2.33 ERA and struck out 219 batters. His only real blemish is that he only pitched 166 innings of work. This type of dominance on the mound is only more crucial this season as he heads into free agency in the off-season.
According to Fangraphs, Ohtani is projected to regress slightly as it shows he will put up an ERA of exactly 3.00 and even fewer innings than last season. However, given where the team stands in terms of offense and his impending free agency, the need for him to go out and win a CY Young award might be ever more important.
Shohei Ohtani should focus less on hitting and more on pitching for the LA Angels
It's no mistake that the team went out and added more depth this season as there are more options in terms of offense to back up Ohtani and his legendary teammate, Mike Trout. That should carry less of a load on the offensive side of things for Ohtani. Although he probably won't slow down there either as he had hit 34 home runs with 95 runs batted in last season.
Any offense provided by Ohtani this season should be seen as an added bonus as the team has others like Hunter Renfroe, Gio Urshela, and Brandon Drury. Of course, it is way too early to determine what the team really needs to do, but if last season is any indication, it is that Ohtani should focus more on his pitching and see his hitting as a side hobby.
It's impossible to tell what Ohtani needs to do for himself, the Angels have shown they are fully supportive of whatever he needs to do to ensure success. However, if Ohtani really does want to help take the team to the postseason, he needs to put up elite numbers on the mound.