Major League Baseball might have a two-way player once again. Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani has been cleared to resume his throwing program. There’s a chance Angels fans will see the 24-year-old back on the mound before the end of the regular season.
Shohei Ohtani gets cleared to resume throwing for Angels
The news comes as a bit of a surprise. Ohtani stopped pitching in early June due to a UCL strain. He was cleared to hit a few weeks later, but the team wanted to hold off on throwing for a few more weeks.
Ohtani’s latest evaluation revealed his elbow has recovered enough to start a throwing program again. The Angels did not give a timeline for Ohtani’s return to the mound, but it will likely take some time for him to build up his stamina before he pitches in a minor-league game.
Getting Shohei Ohtani back would be a big boost to the Angels
While there are still a few hoops for Ohtani to jump through before he returns, getting him back would provide the Angels with a significant boost. The team sits a game above .500 entering the second half, but that’s only good enough for fourth place in a surprisingly tough American League West.
Starting pitching has been a huge issue. The team has lost a number of starters to injury this season. Garrett Richards, J.C. Ramirez, Nick Tropeano, Matt Shoemaker, John Lamb and Alex Meyer are all currently on the disabled list. Ohtani had been one of the team’s best options when healthy. Getting him back would do a lot to stabilize a rotation in need of talent.
Shohei Ohtani has excelled as a two-way player for the Angels
Though he’s been unable to pitch, Ohtani has still provided value to the Angels. Ohtani is hitting .283/.365/.522 over 157 plate appearances. His 145 wRC+, an advanced stat that measures offensive performance, indicates Ohtani has performed 45 percent better than the average major-league hitter in 2018. Combine that with his 3.10 ERA and 30.5 percent strikeout rate as a pitcher, and Ohtani has been everything he was advertised when healthy.
Angels plan with Shohei Ohtani is a risk
While this is good news, Ohtani is not out of the woods yet. He still has to prove his elbow can handle throwing again as he works his way back into game shape. Even then, there’s no guarantee he’ll remain healthy. There were signs Ohtani’s UCL was damaged before he even signed with Los Angeles. Throwing him out there again could lead to further damage. In the team’s defense, that was a risk with Ohtani from Day 1.
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