Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon confirmed that two-way star Shohei Ohtani should be ready to play by Opening Day.
The organization is hopeful that they can fully utilize Ohtani during the shortened 60-game season.
The 25-year-old phenom did not pitch during the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery. However, the Angels are hopeful Ohtani will be ready with the 2020 campaign being delayed until late July.
What To Expect From Ohtani
It sounds like new manager Joe Maddon plans to use Ohtani the same way as the team did in 2018. He will pitch once a week, with a day off before and after he starts. He’d be available to fill in as the designated hitter throughout the rest of the week. It’s a strategy that worked out well for the Angels in 2018.
Ohtani went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts through 10 starts with the Halos during the 2018 season. He slashed .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs and 61 RBI through 104 games as a the designated hitter. He won Rookie of the Year by a landslide after his incredible first season in the big leagues.
The Angels did not have Ohtani take the mound at all during the 2019. However, they continued to use him as a hitter in 2019 and it worked well for the Halos. Shohei Ohtani slashed .286/.343/.505 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI through 106 games last season. Sadly, he wasn’t able to pitch, but at least he helped the team with his bat.
Why A Shorter Season Helps Ohtani
The 2020 MLB season is expected to begin on July 24 with spring training happening early July. There will only be 60 games, so Ohtani’s workload will be much lighter than the last two campaigns. However, the Angels are going to need him to produce if they want to have a chance at the division.
A fair prediction would be Ohtani making roughly 10 starts for the Angels, which is the same amount he made during his rookie season. He will gets days off before and after his starts, so his plate appearances will decrease heavily. Ohtani will likely see around 150-180 plate appearances with the Angels giving him plenty of rest.
A shortened season could be great for Shohei Ohtani who is one year removed from major elbow surgery. The Angels won’t need to push him as hard during a 60-game season. He’ll still be able to help the team, but it won’t be as taxing on his body. Then Ohtani should be fully ready to go back to his normal workload when the 2021 season comes around.