On Thursday, March 31st, Shohei Ohtani made his second and final spring-training start in Tempe, Arizona. He went 3 ⅓ with four strikeouts, three walks, two hits, and two earned runs. Ohtani went 1-for-3 with a single and an RBI in the batter’s box. Shotime says he was “glad” to reach his pitch count of 65 as he gets ready to bring the heat for the Los Angeles Angels on Opening Day.
Although there were some positives about his final start, there were also some negatives. Ohtani could be seen frustrated at the location of his pitches throughout the game. On a 1-2 count, he gave up a double to Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Willy Adames on a hanging splitter. Ohtani hung some of his breaking pitches on a couple of different occasions. Fortunately for him, the Brewers’ hitters were not able to capitalize. However, as hitters pile up the at-bats through April and May, those hanging pitches will not be coming back to the pitcher’s hand.
This angle of Shohei’s slider 😳 pic.twitter.com/BvEKFrvKhd
— MLB (@MLB) March 31, 2022
Ohtani is well aware of that. While showcasing a couple of dirty sliders yesterday, a pitch that was good for him last season, he also threw some that weren’t as great. All of Ohtani’s strikeouts came on sliders. But after each slider hit Angels catcher Max Stassi’s glove, Ohtani was unhappy, knowing that the outcome could have been much worse.
Some nasty stuff from Shohei. pic.twitter.com/bzmZpHvj42
— MLB (@MLB) March 31, 2022
Ohtani’s Masterful Creativity
Even though some of his secondary weapons weren’t as effective and dominant as we’ve seen, and his location wasn’t necessarily precise as he would have liked, he still showed that he’d got one of the best creative pitching arsenals in baseball.
In a Kolten Wong at-bat, he dropped a beauty of a hammer for strike one. Ohtani has utilized that curveball as a surprise first pitch, and it’s worked almost every time – catching hitters totally off guard. When facing the reigning AL MVP, you’re expecting a fastball that can top out at 101, a wicked slider that he can also throw backdoor, a breaking ball, and the best pitch in baseball, his splitter. Ohtani also possesses the ability to cut the fastball. He drops the hammer to steal a strike when you focus on all of his other weapons. That’s a tough at-bat for any hitter. Ohtani’s ability to throw any pitch makes him fun to watch.
A Fierce Competitor
Sho is a competitor, always wanting to get better. His teammates say that he’s a competitor in the gym, always wanting to know the world record to try and beat it. This type of mentality will help Shotime as he continues throughout the season. He is working hard to ensure that his secondary weapons are sharp and his location is right as rain.
Ohtani’s performance in Tempe, AZ
On Friday, Shohei only hit a triple. During the Halos’ time in Tempe, Arizona, Ohtani went 6-for-20 with a triple, two home runs, six breaking balls, six RBI, and four strikeouts. One of those homers came this week when Ohtani showed some oppo pop against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday.
Shotime’s ready for Opening Day. pic.twitter.com/nkrgMQoMlC
— MLB (@MLB) March 29, 2022
It is fair to say that Ohtani has looked like the phenom we saw in 2021; it is even more reasonable to say that he looks even better. He continues to demonstrate the ability to go opposite fields and has shown excellent plate discipline. On the pitching side, location will be something to fix before Opening Day. But on the bright side, his breaking pitches have gotten dirtier since the last time we saw him on the mound — and he’s letting his fastball fly free and easy. Maybe a far-out thought: but Shohei might be in the running for a couple – or maybe more than a couple – of AL Cy Young votes this year.
ShoTime is Ready for the Astros
Shotime is ready for Opening Day; we know it. He will throw a bullpen before his start on Thursday against the Houston Astros. The Halos will begin their last spring-training series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the star-studded Freeway Series. We’ve seen the face of baseball continue to do the things that won him unanimous MVP in 2021 and somehow get EVEN better. The Sho will be ready to make his highly anticipated start at Angel Stadium on Opening Day.