Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has been the headlining story of the 2021 MLB season. So much so, that it’s caught the attention of players who haven’t even faced the Angels this season, such as Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
Scherzer is nearing the end of his career — turning 37 later this month — but he remains one of the best pitchers in the league and has been among the most dominant pitchers of the past decade. Since 2013, Scherzer has won three Cy Young awards, has seven All-Star selections, and has had an ERA below 3.50 in every single season.
If anyone knows what it takes to be an ace, it’s Scherzer. And that’s why his comments about Ohtani’s meteoric rise carry even more weight, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
“He still has some ways to go in refining (his pitching),” Scherzer said. “He throws a splitter. That’s a high-risk pitch (from a health perspective). I don’t know how that continues to play out.
“You don’t walk in the league and become an ace. It takes years to develop as an ace, and he’s in that development process. But his athleticism will allow him to reach his potential, I absolutely believe that. For me, it’s all about him staying healthy. He seems to be an unbelievable athlete. If anybody can do it, he can.”
Injuries have undoubtedly been a problem for Ohtani, especially as a pitcher. He underwent Tommy John surgery that took away his ability to pitch for the entire 2019 season. Then, in 2020, he pitched just twice before a forearm strain ended his mound opportunities.
This is the first year where he is truly playing as himself, and the results are incredible to witness. Scherzer sees ace potential in Ohtani, and that’s ignoring the fact that he currently has a stranglehold on the MLB’s home run lead.
For now, Ohtani can settle for being the Angels ace, even if he’s not yet a true ace. He is by far the best starting pitcher on the roster, and he sports one of the most dominant individual pitches in today’s game.
Hideki Matsui congratulates Ohtani on home run record
With his 32nd home run of the season, Ohtani broke the record for most home runs in one year by a Japanese-born player. Following that record, Hideki Matsui — the original record-holder — released a statement congratulating Ohtani and saying there is simply no one else like him.