The Los Angeles Angels were really excited about having two-way star Shohei Ohtani join the team in 2018. The 26-year-old was a baseball star in Japan before playing in the MLB. On July 26, 2020, Ohtani returned to the mound for the first time since 2018, and he did not have a good performance.
Going forward, the Angels hope that Ohtani can become the dominant pitcher he once was.
Shohei Ohtani was the one player everyone was talking about when he joined the MLB
In December of 2017, Ohtani agreed to a deal with the Angels. When the news broke out, Angels fans were excited to have him join the team and could not wait to see him on the field. Ohtani is a player who can pitch and hit. That’s something you don’t see in the MLB. So the Angels can use him in multiple ways. Before joining the Angels, Ohtani was a star in Japan. He spent five seasons playing for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, who compete in the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Ohtani had a lot of success playing in Japan. He was an All-Star each season he played. In 2015 he was the Pacific League ERA leader and was the Pacific League Pitcher Best Nine. He was a talented player when he started playing professionally, and his game continued to improve over the years. In 2016, Ohtani had a breakout year. He was named the Pacific League MVP and a Japan Series champion. His offensive game started to improve tremendously, and he showed a lot of power behind the plate.
As his offensive game started to improve, he continued to have success on the mound. Now Ohtani was a threat on the mound and at the plate. The MLB quickly took notice of Ohtani’s performance, and before he knew it, the Angels came knocking on his door. During his career playing in Japan, he finished with a 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts on the mound and had a .286 batting average with 48 home runs and 166 RBIs.
Shohei Ohtani quickly made an impact when he joined the MLB
At the start of the 2018 season, Ohtani made the 25-man roster and started as the designated hitter on Opening Day for the Angels. In his first at-bat against the Oakland Athletics, he singled. Ohtani made his pitching debut on April 1, 2018, where he struck out six batters in six innings, allowing three runs to pick up his first MLB win. At the plate, he finished his rookie season batting .285 with 22 home runs and 62 RBIs. On the mound, he finished with a 4-2 record with a 3.31 ERA. He went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
At the end of the 2018 season, Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery, and he did not pitch the entire 2019 season. He played in his first game since the surgery on May 7, 2019, where he was the designated hitter against the Detroit Tigers. On June 13, 2019, he became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle.
Shohei Ohtani did not look himself when he returned to the mound
Ever since Ohtani has come into the league, he’s dealt with numerous injuries. With Ohtani missing the entire 2019 as a pitcher really took a toll on him. Even though he was able to still play as a designated hitter, that was the first time he did not pitch for an entire season. After not pitching for an entire season, he made his return to the mound in 2020.
When Ohtani made his 2020 pitching debut on July 25, that was the first time he’s been on the mound since September of 2018. Many eyes were on Ohtani to see how he would perform after not pitching for an extensive time. In a game against the Athletics, Ohtani failed to retire a batter. In an article from NBC Sports, it talked about how Ohtani lacked arm strength during his outing. In 2018, his average speed was 96.7 mph, and his average was 92.9 mph during his recent outing. It could just be a mental thing for Ohtani, and as he gets more experience on the mound, he’ll start to get back to his normal self, and the confidence will come back.