Having a starting pitcher who is perhaps the best power hitter in all of baseball is a luxury that only belongs to the Los Angeles Angels. Shohei Ohtani has given Joe Maddon and the Angels plenty of different ways to be creative, including forfeiting the designated hitter position on days where Ohtani starts on the mound.
That specific maneuver has allowed the Angels to keep the MLB’s home run leader in the batting order, but has twice in a row come back to haunt them.
First, the Angels were forced to put pitchers in the outfield and in the batting order in what became an extra-innings loss to the San Francisco Giants, then they had to navigate a full nine-inning game with a rotating pitcher spot after Ohtani was bounced in the first against the New York Yankees.
Because of that history — and the Angels current injury situation — Maddon is unsure if he’ll be able to keep Ohtani in the lineup when he takes the mound on Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s going to be based on the bench,” Maddon said. “Today, we only have a catcher on the bench. So that makes it really problematic. We’ll see how this plays out going into tomorrow. It’s hard. It’s very difficult to do that with one guy on the bench.”
Mike Trout is out on Tuesday and beyond, Justin Upton is very likely going to remain on the 10-day IL, and the statuses of Anthony Rendon and Taylor Ward remain unclear. Both suffered minor injuries on July 4 that Maddon thought would require just a day off to fix, but it could be more than that.
If all four of those players are out, then the Angels would have one bench player once again on Tuesday. This makes it impossible to forfeit the designated hitter spot, unfortunately meaning that Ohtani will not be able to hit.
If Rendon and Ward are able to return — even just in a pinch-hitting role — it opens the door for that. Maddon would certainly be motivated to do that given Ohtani’s recent home run spree.
Jose Suarez struggles in first start
In his first legitimate start of the season, Jose Suarez struggled with his pitch count. It took him 75 pitches to get through three innings, giving up two runs on three hits and four walks in the process. Maddon said this won’t affect his spot in the rotation moving forward, calling it a good learning experience.