Angels' Shohei Ohtani Shut Down from Pitching for Rest of 2021 Season

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 29, 2021

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 28: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels prepares to take on the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on September 28, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Seattle Mariners may have caught a break in the American League wild-card race.

Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters Shohei Ohtani will not make his scheduled start in Sunday's season finale against the Mariners. Instead, the potential American League MVP will only hit for the season's remaining games in a decision that was made by both the player and team.

The Angels are 74-83 and eliminated from postseason contention.

"He finished with two really strong outings," Maddon told reporters. "There's really nothing to gain right now."

Ohtani started last Sunday's game against the Texas Rangers and allowed a single earned run and five hits while striking out 10 in seven innings of work. The showing came after he gave up two earned runs and five hits with 10 strikeouts in his previous start against the Oakland Athletics.

That means the two-way star finishes the season as a pitcher with a 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings. It was quite an impressive year, especially since he didn't pitch at all in 2019 and made just two starts during the shortened 2020 campaign.

Now Ohtani will focus on improving his already noteworthy offensive numbers. He is slashing .256/.370/.592 with 45 home runs, 98 RBI and 24 stolen bases.

The biggest fallout from this decision is what it means for the Mariners. They are just a half-game behind the Boston Red Sox for the final American League wild-card spot and now know longer have to worry about facing one of the league's best pitchers in their final regular season contest.

The final playoff spot could be on the line, and Los Angeles will try to play spoiler without Ohtani on the mound.