Shohei Ohtani returns to mound for Angels vs. Rangers

MLB Baseball

The opportunities to see Shohei Ohtani throw a baseball this season are expected to get fewer and further between.

Ohtani is scheduled to start on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

Ohtani, the starting and winning pitcher for the American League team at the All-Star Game last month, will be coming off eight days’ rest and likely won’t pitch again until late next week.

Angels manager Joe Maddon announced on Tuesday that he was switching to a seven-man rotation for the foreseeable future.

“We talked about this from the beginning, to make sure we had enough starters to get through the year comfortably,” Maddon said. “Hopefully, we’re going to realize the benefits next year of what we’re doing this year.”

The pitching staff for the Angels has been mostly healthy this season; but, as recently as 2018, six pitchers for Los Angeles, including Ohtani, underwent Tommy John surgery.

The Angels continue to walk a delicate balance with Ohtani, who has quickly emerged as the top two-way player in the MLB by a wide margin.

He continues to lead the majors with 37 home runs, and he delivered two hits and scored two runs in an 11-3 win against the Rangers on Tuesday.

Ohtani (5-1, 3.04 ERA) has continued to impress on the mound as well. He went 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts in July, earning MLB’s AL Player of the Month for the second straight time.

“I know there are other guys having good years, but you have to stop and really analyze what’s going on here,” Maddon said. “There is nobody that even comes close to what he’s doing. It’s way imbalanced. … When people talk of (the MVP race) being close, it’s not.”

Ohtani faced the Rangers for the first time in the majors in back-to-back starts in late April. The Angels won both games.

He threw four shutout innings against Texas on April 20 but wasn’t eligible for the win in the 6-2 victory.

Ohtani posted his first victory of the season six days later when he gave up four runs and three hits in five innings of a 9-4 win in Arlington.

Andy Ibanez had not yet made his major league debut for the Rangers, but the second baseman has been their best player on offense and defense of late, Texas manager Chris Woodward said.

Ibanez homered for the second time in three games on Tuesday, and he also threw out a runner at home on a nice relay in the sixth.

“Right now, he is our most consistent player,” Woodward said.

Kolby Allard is scheduled to start on the mound for the Rangers, and the left-hander will be trying to end a seven-start losing streak.

Allard (2-9, 5.23) went 0-5 with a 9.13 ERA in July and is 2-15 over the past two seasons.

Allard threw 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief in a 4-3 loss to the Angels on April 28. He’s 0-0 with a 3.95 ERA in four career appearances against the Angels (two starts).

“I know we’re inexperienced and maybe not performing at a level that we would like as far as wins and some of the statistics, but these guys haven’t quit,” Woodward said. “If you have that culture, that’s an advantage every time you step on the field.”

–Field Level Media

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