If there is a silver lining to the 2020 MLB season getting dramatically shortened, for the Angels it least, it means Shohei Ohtani can be fully utilized as a two-way player for the bulk of the 60-game season.
Ohtani, who did not pitch at all in 2019 after having Tommy John surgery, and would not have been ready at the start of a full season this year. But with spring training starting on July 1, manager Joe Maddon told reporters on Wednesday that Ohtani is expected to be ready to pitch by the July 24 opening day.
From Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register:
Although Ohtani should be available from the start, Maddon said he has no plans to use him any differently than the way he was used when he was a two-way player in 2018. That means pitching once a week, with a day off before and after he starts. He’d be available to DH the days in between. That could work out to up to 10 starts and about 150 plate appearances.
“I haven’t really thought about a more aggressive stance with him,” Maddon said, adding that it would be an organizational decision, including input from general manager Billy Eppler and Ohtani.
Ohtani in 2018 started 10 games on the mound and 82 games at designated hitter, posting a 3.31 ERA with 63 starts in 51⅔ innings while hitting .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs in 367 plate appearances, winning American League Rookie of the Year in a landslide vote.
- Maddon also talked about the possibility of a player opting out this season amid the coronavirus pandemic, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com: “None of the players have spoken to me about that, and [general manager] Billy [Eppler] hasn’t told me about any players who are even considering that right now. But if it doesn’t happen, we’d understand. The individual needs to be considered right now.”
- Bollinger at MLB.com also picked Bill Stoneman, architect of the 2002 championship team, as the best general manager in Angels history.
- Dan Szymborski at FanGraphs updated his ZiPS projected standings for 2020, and projects the Angels dead even at 30-30.