Shohei Ohtani received three extra days of rest from manager Joe Maddon after taking an errant 93 mph fastball to his wrist over the weekend. Instead of pitching on Tuesday, he took the mound for the Los Angeles Angels series opener against the Texas Rangers.
The Angels are no longer playing for anything but pride and development, and they certainly took that opportunity with Ohtani on Friday. After having traffic on the bases in the first two innings — and allowing a two-run home run in the second — he wound up putting together a seven-inning, 117-pitch performance.
It was the highest pitch count that Ohtani had ever thrown in a game. He also allowed just two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out eight.
Maddon described why he wanted to leave Ohtani in the game despite jams in the first, second, and seventh innings, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“I like when guys go more deeply into the game like that,” Maddon said. “The mind once stretched has a difficult time going back to its original form, so does a pitcher. When he goes that deeply and gets out of a jam late and has his A stuff late, it does something for him down the road. … This was absolutely a growth moment for him.”
After the game, Ohtani was grateful that Maddon gave him the chance to fight through his seventh inning jam despite a high pitch count.
“I thought there was a good chance I’d be taken out there but Joe had faith in me and I’m glad I was able to come out on top,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “I think it’ll definitely help in the future, especially not giving up that last run. That looks really good and I think Joe will have faith to keep putting me out there when I’m past 100 pitches.”
Ohtani is now 9-1 on the season with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He has been the Angels best and most consistent pitcher, especially since he all but removed free passes as a part of his game.
Going into next season, the Angels now know they have a guy in Ohtani that can go deep into games with regularity. They may still need a six-man rotation in order to do that, but it remains an option nonetheless.
Anonymous executives discuss Ohtani
The Angels have been openly gushing about Ohtani all season long. Now, anonymous executives have gotten themselves into the conversation. They spoke about what the Angels star has done this season, with one exec saying that if Ohtani retired at the end of the season, he would still be talked about forever.