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OC Register: Could the Angels have Shohei Ohtani pitch more often in 2022?

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ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani has delivered the Angels the quality of an ace, but don’t expect him to deliver the quantity.

Manager Joe Maddon conceded on Tuesday that it’s probably not realistic to expect Ohtani to increase his workload next year so he pitches as frequently as a typical major-league starter.

Rather than pitching on four or five days of rest, like most major-league starters, next season Ohtani will continue to pitch on five or six days of rest, or more, Maddon said.

“That’s the price you pay, or that’s the method you have to employ in order to have this guy play both, pitch and hit,” Maddon said. “I have not thought otherwise. I’m pretty certain it will remain the same, like you’ve seen this year.”

Although it’s not a surprise that Maddon doesn’t believe Ohtani could ramp up from there, it was still a valid question because this season the Angels have significantly increased Ohtani’s workload from the way he was used the last time he was a two-way player.

In 2018, the Angels insisted on giving Ohtani a day off from DH-ing before and after he pitched, and he also didn’t hit the day he pitched. All those rules have been abandoned this season, and Ohtani has played virtually every day.

Hitting the accelerator even more on Ohtani next year could certainly help the Angels if he could do it. Ohtani is likely to finish this season with 23 starts, which is probably seven to 10 fewer than a traditional starter who makes it through the season healthy. Obviously, the Angels need all the pitching they can get, and more Ohtani would help. He has a 3.28 ERA and the Angels are 13-9 in his starts, a .591 winning percentage.

If the Angels aren’t going to increase Ohtani’s volume, it begs the question of how they would shape the rest of the rotation around Ohtani.

Could they have all their other starters work on four or five days rest and still accommodate Ohtani? If they add a premium pitcher who would want to pitch as often as possible, could the Angels work that around Ohtani?

Maddon said they can.

“If we get some veteran guys, real solid veteran guys who like to go every fifth day, I think it would be worked through,” Maddon said. “I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a problem, if it happens.”

Maddon also suggested that some of the returning pitchers besides Ohtani – like Patrick Sandoval or José Suarez, for example – might still benefit from the extra rest. None has ever thrown 100 innings in a major league season.

As for the rest of this season, the Angels are undecided on when Ohtani’s next start will be.

If he’s going to have a minimum of six days rest, the soonest it would be is Sunday, the last home game of the season. If he starts Sunday, he could still theoretically start again on the following Sunday in the season finale, giving him 24 starts.

Maddon said they are still waiting to see how Ohtani’s arm bounces back from his previous outing to decide when – or if – he’ll pitch again.

“Him and (interpreter Ippei Mizuhara) haven’t told me anything more severe than normal,” Maddon said. “He’s going to be sore today. But that’s kind of normal stuff.”


Angels (RHP Janson Junk, 0-1, 2.25) vs. Astros (RHP Luis Garcia, 11-7, 3.37), Wednesday, 6:38 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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