LA Angels All-Star Shohei Ohtani Won’t Pitch Again This Season
Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani sustained an elbow injury and won’t appear in any more games as a pitcher this season.
The Angels have yet to decide on whether Ohtani will continue this season as a designated hitter.
In 126 games as a left-handed DH, Ohtani slashed at .304/.405/.664. He leads the majors with 44 home runs and has driven in 91 RBI.
As a right-handed pitcher, Ohtani was 10-5 in 23 starts with a 3.14 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He’s also struck out 167 batters this season. Batters hit only .184 against Ohtani this season, and he boasted one of the best opposing batting averages in the MLB.
Ohtani Has UCL Injury
Ohtani missed several pitching starts this season with blisters on his pitching hand and a cracked fingernail injury. He most recently missed multiple starts due to arm fatigue.
The Angels hosted a doubleheader Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds. Ohtani pitched for the first time in two weeks. He tossed a perfect top of the first inning and recorded two strikeouts. In the bottom of the first, Ohtani crushed a 442-foot home run to right-center with one player on base. The Angels jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
Ohtani recorded one more out in the top of the second inning but then exited the game after only 26 pitches. The Angels initially reported arm fatigue as his issue. He didn’t remain in the game as the DH.
Ohtani cited pain in his right elbow and underwent an MRI, which revealed a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).
Obviously disappointing news,” said general manager Perry Minasian. “I feel terrible for him. But it is what it is. If anybody can bounce back, it’s him.”
Ohtani appeared in the second game of the doubleheader as the DH and went 1-for-5.
Another Tommy John Surgery for Ohtani?
Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 to repair his right elbow. He didn’t pitch in 2019 while recovering from surgery, but he appeared in 106 games as a DH.
During the pandemic, there were legitimate concerns about whether Ohtani would ever pitch again and would abandon pitching to become a full-time DH. He appeared in only two games as a pitcher in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Ohtani erased everyone’s concerns when he returned to the mound as a regular starter in the 2021 season. He posted a 9-2 record in 23 appearances with a 3.18 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. In 155 games as a DH, Ohtani hit 46 home runs and drove in 100 RBI. He won the 2021 AL MVP due to his dual success as a pitcher and batter.
Ohtani will seek a second opinion on his elbow injury this week. He could try to let the UCL tear heal on its own, or he could undergo a second Tommy John surgery. If that’s the case, he won’t pitch next season, but could contribute as a batter and DH.
The elbow injury could impact the next contract that Ohtani signs. Ohtani is in the last year of his original contract and was rumored to fetch a new contract worth $500 million in free agency.
There’s no guarantee Ohtani will re-sign with the Angels. If the Angels traded Ohtani, they could at least receive some compensation in return. If the Angels keep him and he bounces, then they would get nothing.
Angels Headed for Another Losing Season
The Angels had a tough decision to make in July. They were on the AL wild-card bubble without All-Star outfielder Mike Trout in the lineup. Trout fractured his wrist in July and might not return until September.
Team owner Arturo Moreno stated that he wouldn’t trade Ohtani if the Angels were in playoff contention, so the Angels kept their two-way star and made several trades to bolster the roster. The new players didn’t help the Angels, who went 5-16 since the trade deadline.
The Angels are currently 61-67 and six games under .500. They’re in fourth place in the AL West and 12 games behind Max Scherzer and the Texas Rangers in first place.
With 34 games remaining, the Angels are 10.5 games out of the AL wild-card race with three teams ahead of them on the bubble, including the New York Yankees, who imploded after Aaron Judge suffered a toe injury.
If the Angels lose Ohtani as a hitter for the rest of the season, they’ll have a difficult time avoiding their eighth-straight losing season.
DraftKings removed the Angels from their “make the playoffs” prop bets. However, the Angels still appear on the futures board as a moon shot to win the AL West at +80000 odds. The AL West is the closest divisional race in baseball right now with 1.5 games separating the Rangers, the surging Seattle Mariners, and the defending World Series champion Houston Astros.
Ohtani was so far ahead in the AL MVP race that most sportsbooks pulled that prop bet off their MLB awards page. Even if Ohtani misses the last 34 games this season, he is still a heavy favorite to win his second MVP since 2021.
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