Ohtani K's his way to another milestone

September 29th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger's Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ANAHEIM -- Two-way sensation reached yet another milestone on Thursday against the Twins, reaching the 200-strikeout mark for the first time in his career.

He set another record in the process, as he now has hit more homers in a season than any other player with a 200-strikeout season. Ohtani has hit 34 homers this season and the previous high for a pitcher with 200 strikeouts in a season was seven homers hit by Hall of Famer Don Drysdale in 1965 and Earl Wilson in 1966.

And he’s also put himself in position to not only be considered for the American League MVP Award, along with Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, but for the AL Cy Young Award as well. Ohtani is 14-8 with a 2.47 ERA in 26 starts and has two more remaining, as he's set to take the mound against the A's on Thursday at Angel Stadium and in Oakland to close the regular season on Oct. 5. He's struck out 203 batters, walked 42 and allowed 14 homers in 153 innings.

Entering play Wednesday, Ohtani ranked first in the Majors in strikeouts per nine innings (11.9) and fourth in the AL in strikeouts, ERA and wins. Other top candidates include the White Sox’s Dylan Cease, who is 14-7 with a 2.06 ERA and 222 strikeouts in 179 innings, Houston’s Justin Verlander, who is 17-4 with a 1.82 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 163 innings and Toronto’s Alek Manoah, who is 15-7 with a 2.31 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 190 2/3 innings.

“I think he’s right in that talk,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “He’s going to get there with the innings. Personally, there’s nobody I’d want out there more if I wanted to win a big game. I certainly think he should be in the discussion.”

Ohtani needs to reach 162 innings to be qualified among the league leaders and is on pace to make history as the first player to be a qualifying player as both a hitter and a pitcher. He already qualified as a hitter, as he’s well over the minimum of 502 plate appearances.

Twins shortstop Carlos Correa was the latest to marvel over Ohtani, as he had nothing but positive things to say about him ahead of last weekend’s series at Target Field.

"What makes what Shohei is doing even more impressive isn't the fact he can throw 100 mph or hit a ball 500 feet, it's that he can stay healthy through it all,” Correa said. “That's just so tough. Pitching every six or seven days and hitting every day, that's what impresses me the most. ... As you can tell, I'm a fan. I've got a lot of admiration for the guy. I think he is the best player to ever cross the lines in Major League history."