Shohei Ohtani’s velocity shows alarming dip; arm soreness prompts Angels to schedule MRI

Early on, Joe Maddon is maddening to Angels fans.

Shohei Ohtani exited Sunday’s game after being largely ineffective vs. the Astros, pitching an inning and two thirds, giving up two runs but, arguably most alarmingly, walking five (four in the second inning). 

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The poor start followed another poor start from Ohtani, with his overall numbers on the season not great despite a small sample size: two starts, 1 2/3 innings, 37.50 ERA. Well, bad comes to worse, with Ohtani heading for an MRI after experiencing soreness in his pitching arm. 

Unfortunately for Ohtani and the Angels, there was a harrowing trend in his velocity Sunday, with his fastball speed taking a concerning dip as his outing wore on. Per’s Mike Petriello, that trend is similar to the last start Ohtani had before being shut down and having Tommy John surgery in 2018.

It’s been a rough go early on for the Angels and new manager Joe Maddon, whose pitching staff has been about as expected in 2020 — as in, not great. Luckily for the Angels, both Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning have looked like encouraging answers for the rotation, but without Ohtani there are questions to how far the Angels will go if they make the postseason. That’s a big if at the moment.

The bullpen might be the bigger issue, though, with the Angels blowing five of six save opportunities already in 2020 and having the fourth-worst xFIP in MLB at 5.19, per Fangraphs. If you’re new to baseball, that’s not great!

Maddon has long been questioned for his unorthodox approach to pitching and bullpen use, and that seems to have following him back to Los Angeles in his first year as Angels manager. If they’re going to be without Ohtani, it’s bad. And if Maddon can’t figure out what’s going wrong, it’s going to get a lot worse for LA.