Has the 2-way experiment failed on both ends?How should Ohtani and the Angels continue forward?
Shohei Ohtani is coming off major Tommy John Surgery on his throwing arm. After his recent start in spring training where Ohtani struck out 5 of the 10 batters he faced, the questions of injuries still plague the Japanese phenom's career. His first season we saw him win Rookie of the Year, batting .285 with 22 home runs, 61 RBIs and 10 stolen bases as a designated hitter, while having a 4-2 record as a pitcher with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings. He hasn’t thrown in a real competitive game in over a year after his Tommy John Surgery and he is insisting on still being a 2-way star. Can Ohtani actually pull this off?
So far as a hitter he has been solid. As a pitcher, he has shown glimpses of being the ace pitcher that he was projected to be, but is it worth the pressure and toll it takes as a 2-way player? After his rookie season, his career has been marred by injuries, which was a fear of teams coming into the league, could his body take what he was attempting? 5 days after signing it was found that Ohtani had a UCL strain in his pitching elbow, which saw him go on the DL his rookie year on June 7th. He came back from the DL in July as a hitter, but not cleared yet as a pitcher. That happened on September 2nd, with the MRI on his elbow showing new damage to the UCL which would require Tommy John surgery. Ohtani returned to the Angels as a hitter in May of the 2019 season. Ohtani finished the season with similar numbers to his rookie season, batting .286 with 18 home runs, 62 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. In 2020, Ohtani ended his season early with another surgery, this time on his knee to repair a bipartite patella.
The Angels have struggled in the pitching department, having one of the league's worst pitching staffs. Ohtani as a pitcher has pitched in 12 games, a 4-3 record, 66 strikeouts to 30 walks in 53 innings pitched. He had 12 strikeouts and gave 1 hit in 7 innings in his 2nd start of his career. If Ohtani focuses on the aspect of his game whether it be as a pitcher or hitter, he could help save his body from the toll it would take as a major leaguer ball player and see his career go longer. He could even become a relief pitcher where he would pitch 2-3 innings every other game when he isn’t hitting, and be a weapon for the Angels if they go into an extra innings game needing a pitcher. Whatever Ohtani does, his recent injury record shows he might not be able to keep his body together for an entire season as both. Only time will tell if he can keep it up.