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Inbox: What are Ohtani's pitching expectations?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers questions from Los Angeles fans
@RhettBollinger
January 16, 2020

ANAHEIM -- The Angels have added starting pitching this offseason, acquiring right-handers Dylan Bundy, Julio Teheran and Matt Andriese, but the club is yet to make a truly big splash within its rotation. So there are still questions about starting pitching, especially with how Shohei Ohtani will be utilized in

ANAHEIM -- The Angels have added starting pitching this offseason, acquiring right-handers Dylan Bundy, Julio Teheran and Matt Andriese, but the club is yet to make a truly big splash within its rotation.

So there are still questions about starting pitching, especially with how Shohei Ohtani will be utilized in 2020 and if there’s still a chance they add more arms before Spring Training.

With that in mind, here’s another edition of the Angels inbox:

The Angels are getting closer to determining Ohtani’s workload this upcoming season, as he finished his rehab from Tommy John surgery in mid-December after it was pushed back a few months because of left knee surgery in September.

Ohtani is expected to pitch once a week -- much like his rookie year in 2018 -- but there’s still a chance he might not be ready to pitch at the start of the season. The Angels could also look to limit his workload a bit because of the Tommy John operation. Los Angeles is yet to get a determination from the doctors on its right-hander because his rehab from elbow surgery went longer than planned due to the knee operation.

An update on Ohtani should be coming as early as next week, as general manager Billy Eppler has said that the club will know more by late January after more meetings with doctors.

It is incredible that the Angels had only one pitcher reach the century mark in 2019, with Trevor Cahill leading the way by throwing 102 1/3 frames. It’s a reason why Los Angeles went after durable starters this offseason, acquiring Bundy and Teheran. Bundy has made at least 28 starts in each of the last three seasons, reaching at least 160 innings each year. Teheran’s streak goes back even further, as he’s made at least 30 starts in seven straight seasons, reaching at least 174 innings in each of his full seasons as a starter.

Of course, the Angels would also love to see healthy seasons from Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning, both of whom dealt with elbow issues last year. Reaching the 100-inning mark as a starter should be a relatively easy task, as the 200-inning plateau is still the gold standard. Los Angeles hasn't had a pitcher reach that second total since Garrett Richards in 2015, and they don’t have anyone on their roster who appears primed to reach that high of a mark this season.

The Angels have been linked to several potential trade candidates this offseason, including Boston’s David Price, Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger and Colorado’s Jon Gray. As of now, the asking prices have been too high for Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change before the end of the offseason.

The Halos have essentially made Jo Adell -- their top prospect per MLB Pipeline -- untouchable, but they do have other intriguing prospects who could be made available in a trade such as Brandon Marsh, Jeremiah Jackson, Jordyn Adams and Kyren Paris.

Angels' Top 30 Prospects list

It might not be enough for a pitcher of Clevinger’s caliber, but it’s still too early to say the Angels are done adding pitching this offseason. Andriese will come into camp competing for a job as a starter, but he has pitched in relief in recent years, so he could be moved to the bullpen if the Halos can acquire another pitcher to join the rotation.

With the way Hansel Robles performed last year, the Angels don't have a need for a closer. Robles posted a more-than-respectable 2.48 ERA, and his peripheral stats were strong with 75 strikeouts, 16 walks and just six homers allowed in 72 2/3 innings. He also converted 23 of 27 save chances.

Los Angeles also has in-house relievers who have the stuff to be closers in the future such as Ty Buttrey and Keynan Middleton. Obviously, you can never have enough arms, so adding to the bullpen could still make sense, just not for a pricey closer.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.