Shohei Ohtani was scheduled to start on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels on Friday against the Oakland A’s in Anaheim, Calif., but the two-way player and leading MVP candidate instead will be limited to designated hitter duties only.
Ohtani will not pitch in the three-game series against Oakland, and it’s also possible he will be shut down for the rest of the season as a pitcher.
Ohtani (9-2, 3.36 ERA in 21 starts) was hit hard in his last start (six runs in 3 1/3 innings in a loss to Houston), and then felt soreness in his right arm when playing catch Wednesday.
With just 16 games remaining and the club out of the playoff picture, the Angels (72-74) and manager Joe Maddon are considering shutting Ohtani down, especially since he had Tommy John surgery in 2018.
“That could be part of the conversation,” Maddon said. “It hasn’t gotten there yet. Actually, I did bring it up, but that’ll be something that we’ll talk about as he starts to feel better, and then we’ll take it from there.
“I think he’s got nine wins, and on a personal level, he probably is thinking about 10 — 10 always looks better than nine — but we can’t permit that to be the driving factor. So we’ll just wait and see how he feels.”
The sore arm does not affect Ohtani at the plate, but he has tapered off offensively in September. Despite going 2-for-4 on Thursday in a win over the White Sox, Ohtani is hitting .190 (8-for-42) with two homers and four RBIs in 12 games this month.
With 44 home runs, Ohtani is one behind major league leaders Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Salvador Perez and three short of the Angels’ club record of 47, set by Troy Glaus in 2000.
Left-hander Cole Irvin will start on the mound for Oakland (79-67), which is three games behind in the race for the second wild card berth in the AL. Irvin, who was born in Anaheim and grew up an Angels fan, will be making his fifth start against Los Angeles this season, having gone 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA in four starts.
Irvin (9-13, 4.04) hasn’t won in his past four starts, but he is coming off a strong performance last Saturday – he gave up two runs in seven innings while getting a no-decision against Texas.
The A’s are hoping third baseman Matt Chapman will return to the lineup on Friday. Chapman had been feeling discomfort in his left leg, then fouled a ball off his left shin in last Saturday’s game and hasn’t played since.
Chapman, though, fielded ground balls and took batting practice on Thursday.
“If all goes well, then I think we have a chance to play him (Friday), and hopefully that’s the case,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Josh Harrison had a big day in Chapman’s place at third base Thursday against Kansas City, going 4-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.
–Field Level Media