For the time being, baseball might be good again. And it’s all because of Shohei Ohtani.
he Japanese rookie hasn’t thrown a pitch since June 6 against the Kansas City Royals, when his outing was limited to just four innings (4H, 1ER, 3BB, 4K) thanks to an elbow injury. At the time everyone expected the worst: Tommy John surgery. Instead, they just shut him down from mound duty indefinitely. In the meantime Ohtani kept hitting, carrying a .283/.365/.552 slash line (.877 OPS; 145 wRC+) with 10 doubles and seven home runs into the break.
Ohtani didn’t play at all (even at the plate) from June 6 to July 3. And while his July numbers didn’t set the league ablaze, a .250/.333/.458 slash line is admirable given the nature of the injury. Now the Los Angeles Angels are getting our hopes up. Thursday night they announced that Ohtani’s six-week reevaluation went well, noting the ligament “continues to show improved healing.” Even better, he can now begin a throwing progression.
This is fantastic news for baseball, of course. But it’s also great news for the Angels, a team that has another bad injury update seemingly every week. Particularly when it comes to pitchers and their elbows.
On the mound, Ohtani has nine starts and 49.1 innings under his belt. Through them he holds a 3.10 ERA, 3.28 FIP and 3.02 DRA while striking out 11.1 batters per nine innings and limiting the long ball (0.9 HR/9). He’s very good, and baseball is much more fun with him being able to showcase everything he has. Baseball needs players like Ohtani; here’s to hoping his throwing progression goes well.
In the meantime, the Angels are just 49-48 this season. They’re already 14 games out of first place in the American League West. They’re even nine games back of the wild card at this point.
But stranger things have happened, right?