Ohtani to start Monday; J-Up back in fold

July 22nd, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- Two-way star 's next start will come on Monday against the Rockies at Angel Stadium, as the Angels will call up a starter from the Minor Leagues to take the mound against the Twins in Sunday's series finale at Target Field.

Ohtani could’ve made the start on Sunday on five days' rest after throwing six scoreless innings against the A’s on Monday, but the Angels wanted to give him an extra day and return to a six-man rotation. The club hasn’t determined who will start on Sunday.

“The plan is to keep Shohei on six,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re still trying to figure out what that day will look like. We’ll have that in the next few days.”

Ohtani, 27, has made 14 starts this season and is 4-1 with a 3.21 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 73 innings. But he's fared better at home with a 1.87 ERA in eight starts compared to a 5.16 ERA in six road starts.

He hasn't made any starts this season on a normal rest of four days. He's made five starts with five days' rest and nine with at least six days' rest. He has a 2.61 ERA pitching on five days' rest compared to a 3.64 ERA with at least six days' rest.

Ohtani is expected to be in the lineup at designated hitter -- starting there on Thursday -- for the four-game series at Target Field. He entered Thursday batting .274/.361/.679 with a Major League-leading 34 homers in 89 games.

Right-hander Jaime Barria is a top candidate to be recalled to make Sunday’s start because he’s on the 40-man roster and made his last start with Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday. He’d be pitching on normal rest on Sunday. Barria has a 4.41 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 49 innings over 10 starts with Salt Lake.

Upton returns, bats third

Left fielder Justin Upton, who had been out since June 22 with a lower back strain, returned to the lineup on Thursday, batting third behind leadoff hitter David Fletcher and Ohtani. Upton played in two rehab games with Salt Lake, going 1-for-7 with a home run.

“I feel healthy,” Upton said. “I went out and saw some pitches and now I’m ready. I wanted to see how it went. I was more worried about timing and seeing the ball, but I feel like I accomplished that.”

Upton had been swinging a hot bat prior to the injury, batting .326/.417/.576 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 24 games as the leadoff hitter. But with Fletcher on a hot streak of his own, Upton batted third instead on Thursday.

“It was pretty easy,” Maddon said. “I wasn’t going to move Fletch right now. And J-Up is coming off a long absence.”

Outfielder Taylor Ward was optioned to make room on the roster for Upton. Ward had been swinging the bat well recently, going 5-for-11 over his last four games, but he was a roster casualty because he has Minor League options, unlike Juan Lagares and Adam Eaton. It also allows him to play every day at Triple-A.

“It’s more numbers,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “He’s played well. He took it like a pro. He’s got a chance to have a really bright future”

Detmers, Rodriguez promoted to Triple-A

Top pitching prospects Reid Detmers and Chris Rodriguez were promoted from Double-A Rocket City to Triple-A on Thursday. Detmers is ranked as the club’s No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline.com, while Rodriguez graduated from his prospect status after posting a 3.66 ERA in 13 relief appearances in the Majors this year.

Detmers, 22, logged a 3.50 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 54 innings at Double-A, while Rodriguez had a 4.26 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings at Double-A. Both could be called up later this season.

“There were certain checkmarks they had to meet to move up,” Minasian said. “We felt like Detmers did everything he needed to do and deserved the opportunity to move up. And C-Rod, he had a good outing last time out. He's had one hiccup, which is fine, and I'm glad to see him bounce back. So we feel like both guys are ready for the challenge."