Shohei Othani returned to the lineup Tuesday night as the Angel’s DH, and went 0-for-4. For many, it was surprising that we would see him return to the lineup so soon with how valuable he has been to this team.
Even before coming to the majors, the buzz of a two-way player and his implications in the league sent the media into a frenzy.
So after seeing both sides, which, the batter or the hitter, is the best version, the Greatest Sho?
Clearly, his work on the mound has been elite with a great K rate and a low 3.10 ERA. However, while his triple-digit splitter and looping breaking balls are what hypnotizes, he’s no slouch at the plate, with 6 home runs and a .289 average in 114 at-bats.
What makes this injury difficult to manage is the fact that he really is on two different types of recovery tracks. After the Grade 2 sprain to his pitching elbow, Ohtani received stem cell therapy and a platelet-rich plasma injection to help heal. And while he has been rehabbing with a hitting program and taking minor league pitches, he is yet to resume any type of throwing activities.
It’s unknown, at this point, if he will even be able to throw again this year. Ohtani had already come into the season with a known Grade 1 sprain that has clearly worsened. Injections have helped a few pitchers to avoid surgery, but often enough, this type of injury can result in a season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Clearly, the Angels value his bat enough to attempt to put Ohtani back out onto the field. The Astros have been dominating the AL West and the Mariners have given them a run for their money, so if the Angels want to stay in the race, they will have to start hitting better, and right away. The Angels offense has been skidding to a halt lately (other than Trout, naturally) being in the bottom 5 among team average and OPS in the last 14 days.
Regarding the opinion of rushing Ohtani back to play, Manager Mike Scioscia stated, “He would not be playing here tonight if he wasn’t cleared by our medical department. We were very comfortable that he was able to swing the bat.”
In fantasy, Ohtani has been approached in different ways. In many leagues (such as Yahoo) he has been split into two different players, a hitter and a pitcher. It’s being handled the same as in leagues where he is one player that is SP/DH/Util eligible. Currently, both “players” (Ohtani the hitter and Ohtani the pitcher) have come off the DL in Yahoo leagues. That could put you in a bind if you don’t have many bench spots and must hold onto Ohtani the pitcher, without knowing if he will pitch again this season. It’s unlikely that it would be soon, but depending on your league and bench depth, it is a risk to keep him when there is a strong possibility he will be shut down for the season.
As a batter in fantasy, Ohtani might have already been dropped (especially if it’s Ohtani the hitter). He has not gotten regular at-bats this season, as they have been monitoring his workload and are likely to continue to do the same. Still, if you have a bench or utility spot, Ohtani could put up good numbers at the plate, potentially 10 home runs, with a .270-.280 average. Especially in deep leagues, consider if you’re getting that value already, and if not you could get a free upgrade off the wire.
As the Ohtani experiment continues, keep in mind, this is the first time a two-way player’s workload and injuries have been managed in the MLB. It will be a new process and one that may take more than one twist and turn. Ohtani is great for the Angels and great for baseball, so they will certainly make sure that they protect him as much as they can.
MLB Correspondent | Despite the inherent challenges of being a Rays fan, I’ve thrived as an avid fan of all things baseball and fantasy baseball for 20 years.