Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Tuesday two-way star Shohei Ohtani isn't expected to pitch until mid-May as he completes his recovery from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in October 2018.
The 25-year-old Japanese sensation enjoyed a strong start to his career on the mound before he suffered the major elbow injury. He posted a 3.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings across 10 starts in 2018, his first MLB season after five years with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan.
Ohtani made 106 appearances as the Angels' DH in 2019. He posted a .286/.343/.505 triple-slash line with 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases. His .848 OPS would have tied for 26th in the American League if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
Knee surgery cut short his second season in September, but he expressed excitement about being a two-way contributor again in 2020.
"I'm very excited, obviously and since I got this surgery quick, I need to take each day preciously, try to get back early as possible and get back to full strength next season," he told reporters through an interpreter.
The Angels bolstered their rotation over the winter with the additions of Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, who will join Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and whomever wins the fifth-starter job in spring training.
It's a solid group, but it lacks an ace. Ohtani showed the potential to reach that level in 2018, and he can providing offensive depth behind the superstar tandem of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.
So, while Trout is the best player in baseball, Ohtani could hold the key to the end of the Angels' five-year playoff drought. If he can get healthy and provide production similar to 2018 on the mound and over the last two years at the plate, he could be a six-win player for L.A. this year.