Shohei Ohtani has electrified the baseball world with his two-way playing ability, but is that the best thing for him and/or the Angels.
Ohtani came into Yankee Stadium this week and showed the NY crowd what he’s been showing to the rest of the league with his power stroke, that plays perfectly for Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had that thought in mind when they tried to lure him to the Bronx, but Ohtani did not want to play here.
Next up for Ohtani was taking the mound for his first start as a pitcher at Yankee Stadium.
Angels Mgr. Joe Maddon had to weigh whether to use Ohtani in the lineup as a hitter because of the extreme heat. What happened last night was the reason why it may not make sense to keep using Ohtani as a pitcher, when his hitting is outweighing his pitching exploits.
Ohtani lasted 2/3 of an inning as he had trouble locating the strike zone and the Yankees did something that they haven’t done a whole lot of this season and that’s take advantage of a struggling pitcher. It looked like Ohtani was a position player who was making a rare pitching appearance.
The 23-year old right hander walked the first three hitters on 19 pitches. After the 9th hitter he faced, Brett Gardner, walked with the bases loaded to make it a 4-2 game, Ohtani was lifted. D.J. LeMahieu cleared the bases with a double against reliever Aaron Slegers for a 7-2 lead that completed Ohtani’s awful pitching line. (2/3 IP, 2H, 7ER, 4BB, 1K, 41 pitches, 20 strikes)
You see what happened when Ohtani has a short outing. It has an effect on the pitching staff and the line up.
Ohtani was the lead off batter so think about his routine before the game. He has to warm up in the bullpen in the extreme heat to get ready to pitch. Before he actually takes the mound, Ohtani had to bat as the lead off hitter and he flied out to deep left center field. So, he gets knocked out extremely early and has to leave the game. Maddon has to go to his bullpen and use pitchers as batters because there is no DH and the Angels lose Ohtani’s at bats for the remainder of that game.
Everyone raves about Ohtani’s ability to throw 100 MPH fastballs and hit mammoth home runs, but is using him, both to hit and pitch, beneficial for both him and the team.
There was always a risk in using Ohtani as a pitcher. Even though his ERA was under two coming into last night’s game, he’s had games this season where he has greatly struggled with his control. In those games, the opponent didn’t cash in when he was “walking the ballpark.”
What will be worth watching is how Ohtani performs in the second half. Right now, he’s putting up incredible offensive numbers. If you pro rate what he’s doing, he could end up with an historical season, but will this workload of hitting and pitching, wear him down in the second half. He has also committed to the Home Run Derby and you know the history of what has happened to some of those players in the second half after they’ve participated in the event.
Ohtani is a marvelous talent, and the Angels need to use him wisely. For their own good and the good of the game.
What went unnoticed in Wednesday night’s disastrous Yankee loss is what has really come to light during the first half of this season and particularly, during this recent stretch of home games.
The opponent’s left handed hitters keep reminding the Yankees of what is a glaring flaw in their offense.
Look who has come in lately and used Yankee Stadium to their advantage. In the last 9 home games against Oakland, Kansas City and the LA Angels, opposing left handed hitters have raked at the Stadium.
Left hand hitters Matt Olson, Tony Kemp, Ryan O’Hearn, Carlos Santana, Shohei Ohtani and Jared
Walsh all went deep. Kemp has 19 career home runs and he hit two. O’Hearn has 8 career hits against the Yankees and four are home runs.
Ohtani hit one in the first game and two in the second game of the series. Walsh hit two in Wednesday’s night’s game, including that crushing, game tying grand slam.
This lack of left handed hitting has been a big problem since the Yankees retooled five years ago. It’s cost them in the playoffs and now, you combine that lack of balance, with a lack of speed and athleticism on the roster, not to mention the base running mistakes and you have major reasons why this star studded lineup has underachieved.
You can’t keep running out a lineup every night that has 7 or 8 right handed hitters and have the opponent keep “slapping you in the face with the same fish.” Trying to outmatch the percentages (right on right) doesn’t work. There are a number of right handed pitchers who do not like pitching to left handed hitters, so the Yankees lose out on any mental edge.
There’s no significant players out there to impact this season, so these are issues that will probably have to be addressed in the off season.
Before the baseball season began, I had the great Kevin Burkhardt of Fox Sports on my Karpin’s Korner show and we were discussing what teams could surprise. I said, “Watch out for Seattle, they could make some noise in the AL West.”
The Mariners are one of the hottest teams in baseball. Seattle beat the Blue Jays 7-2 for their 12th win in their last 16 games. During that stretch, the M’s swept a four game series against the Rays and won back to back series in Chicago against the White Sox and this last series against the Jays in Buffalo.
With a 43-29 record, Seattle is right in the thick of the playoff race. They trail the Oakland A’s by 4½ games for the second AL Wild Card spot, and they begin a 9-game home stand against the Rangers, Yankees and Angels that takes them into the All Star break.
Seattle is getting good work out of their bullpen and the starting pitching has gotten a jolt from Yusei Kikuchi who is 5-0 in his last seven appearances. The left hander has allowed 3 earned runs over his last 26 2/3 IP.
Sometimes the numbers do lie. Consider that Seattle’s team batting average is .218 but they hit .272 with RISP and .315 with the bases loaded.
I don’t know if the Mariners are a playoff team but they are making some noise in the AL West.