The Angels’ signing of 23-year-old two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani was a huge coup for the Los Angeles Angels, but it also came with some logistical hurdles. How often will Ohtani hit? Will he ever play the field? Will he be a full member of the starting rotation or a partial one? And how will his presence affect the team’s other pitchers?
Well on Tuesday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia offered a small amount of insight into how the team will handle Ohtani, saying the Angels will use a six-man rotation to accommodate their new star.
#Angels Mike Scioscia, on a 6-man rotation: “We’re going to be flexible but right now that looks like the way we’re going to map things out.”
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) February 13, 2018
Though some back-in-the-day type people will surely gripe about ever-expanding rotations, this makes sense on numerous levels. In Japan, pitchers typically throw only once a week, and the transition to an every-five-days routine had doomed Japanese hurlers before. Given that Ohtani will also hit on some days when he’s not pitching, the 23-year-old might be particularly susceptible to overwork.
On a team with a dominant ace, a six-man rotation would come with a serious cost, preventing the top guy from pitching as often. But the Angels have no Clayton Kershaw or Corey Kluber. They’ve got a staff full of league-average pitchers the team can afford to pitch slightly less often — Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney, among others. Besides, many members of that group are returning from injuries and could probably benefit from the lighter load themselves.
Scioscia also addressed the question of how much opportunity Ohtani will get at the plate… sort of Via ESPN:
“He’s going to get the most looks as a pitcher,” Scioscia said. “If he can pitch to his capabilities, that will always influence your team more than what he would do hitting. But that’s not to say he won’t have a chance to be a difference-maker on the offensive end, too.
Clearly the Angels still have a lot of unresolved questions about Ohtani. But when it comes to their 23-year-old phenom with a wider skillset than any Major League in the past century, these are good problems to have.