Ohtani to start on mound Sunday vs. A's

Decision made after two-way star tests arm soreness with BP session

September 18th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Two-way star isn't quite finished pitching this season, as he’s scheduled to start on Sunday against the A’s at Angel Stadium.

Angels manager Joe Maddon indicated on Thursday that Ohtani could be shut down for the season with soreness in his pitching arm, but Ohtani threw a 32-pitch bullpen session without any issues on Friday. Ohtani was originally scheduled to start Friday's series opener against Oakland, but will now take the hill in Sunday's finale. Right-hander Jaime Barría is expected to be pushed back to start against the Astros on Monday.

Pitching coach Matt Wise watched Ohtani's bullpen session and came away impressed by what he saw. Ohtani also informed the coaching staff he felt good and wanted to pitch Sunday. 

"It was great," Maddon said. "Wise came in right after and said it was like a 'full gorilla' bullpen and that he got after it. Matt liked that and Shohei was all about pitching Sunday, so we adjusted. We're just listening to him and he was adamant."

It'll be the 22nd start of the year for Ohtani, who is 9-2 with a 3.36 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 115 1/3 innings. The phenom struggled in his last outing against the Astros on Sept. 10, allowing six runs over 3 1/3 innings. His velocity was a bit lower than usual, Ohtani saying afterward that he was dealing with some arm soreness. It was a cause for concern for the Angels, but Ohtani showed he was healthy with his bullpen session on Friday.

He’s still been able to hit with the injury and served as the club’s No. 3 hitter against Oakland on Friday. He has 44 homers this year, which ranks third in the Majors behind Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (46) and Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (45).