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Angels' Shohei Ohtani Should Resume Pitching in 2021, Says Joe Maddon

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2021

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) pitches during a baseball practice at Angels Stadium on Friday, July 3, 2020, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Angels haven't given up hope on using Shohei Ohtani as a two-way star even though injuries largely precluded the right-hander from taking the mound in 2019 and 2020.

"I'm hearing full-go," Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters in reference to Ohtani both hitting and pitching in 2021.

Greg Beacham @gregbeacham

Angels manager Joe Maddon on Shohei Ohtani's readiness for a 2-way season: "I'm hearing full-go. The reports I've been getting are fabulous. If we get Shohei in the right direction, going to be a pretty good offseason acquisition right there. I'm excited to watch this."

The 26-year-old had a 3.31 ERA through 10 starts in 2018 before suffering an elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. That eliminated any shot of his pitching in 2019.

Ohtani resumed those duties in 2020 but allowed seven earned runs over 1.2 innings. Los Angeles limited his usage once again upon discovering he had a Grade 1-2 flexor strain in his right elbow.

ESPN's Bradford Doolittle ranked the Angels starting rotation No. 18 in baseball, encapsulating the biggest issue surrounding the unit.

"This rotation is just so ... Angels," Doolittle wrote. "That is, there are plenty of familiar names and even a certain amount of stability in the group's collective forecast. Yet, it's hard to look at the one-through-seven outlook and conceive of any way to describe it that would really excite Halos fans."

Especially if Dylan Bundy's 2020 was a mirage, the Angels are devoid of a true ace. Perhaps Ohtani, who averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings and sported a 2.55 ERA in Japan, could claim that title because he clearly has the stuff to be a top-end starter.

MLB @MLB

Two years ago, Shohei Ohtani made his pitching debut. He was nasty from the start. 🔥 https://t.co/XsDA5a9kxd

The team and fanbase will probably remain cautiously optimistic about the prospect, though. As great as the idea of Ohtani as a two-way player sounds, the toll of doing so seems to have caught up with him.

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