Angels likely to opt for six-man rotation in 2018
Scioscia hoping tactic eases Ohtani's transition into Majors
ANAHEIM -- Manager Mike Scioscia reaffirmed that the Angels are leaning toward adopting a six-man rotation in 2018 during an interview with MLB Network Radio on Tuesday.
"That's what we're looking at," Scioscia told hosts Mike Ferrin and Matt Diaz. "I think that's probably the route we will go, but we're going to wait until we get to Spring Training, and then we can make some decisions there. I think it makes a lot of sense right now, and it's something we're looking at very closely."
The Angels began to seriously weigh a six-man rotation in December after landing two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who pitched once every seven days in his native Japan. The club views an expanded rotation as a potential way to ease Ohtani's transition to the Majors and keep the rest of its starters healthy by giving them more rest in between outings.
Carrying six starters would also allow the Angels to better manage Ohtani's innings in his first full season in the Majors. The 23-year-old right-hander never pitched more than 160 2/3 innings in a single season in Nippon Professional Baseball, and he was limited to just five starts last year due to an ankle injury. He also received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow in October to treat a grade-one sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament.
Earlier this month, general manager Billy Eppler and other members of the Angels' front office traveled to Japan to meet with Ohtani and executives from his former club, the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Eppler said he hoped to seek advice about ways to manage Ohtani's workload as both a pitcher and a hitter.
"There was a definite purpose to it," Scioscia said. "Billy went over there with some members of our medical staff and really wanted to put together a program that would give Shohei an opportunity to make a seamless transition into our baseball culture here in the United States, understand some of his training methods [and] get an evaluation of physically just exactly where he is. Everything came back great. We're excited about it. I think there's a very, very well-thought-out plan for Shohei as far as getting him ready to pitch and also getting him ready to hit. Hopefully we'll hit the ground in a couple weeks here in Spring Training."
With slugger Vladimir Guerrero likely to earn induction into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Scioscia also took some time to reflect on Guerrero's decorated career, which included six seasons in Anaheim.
"I've never been around a player that took his 'A' swing so often and swung the bat so hard, but yet squared the ball up so consistently, than Vlad," said Scioscia, who managed Guerrero during his entire stint with the Angels. "This guy was a machine at home plate. … I'm surprised he wasn't a first-ballot Hall of Famer. This year, if he's not elected to the Hall of Fame, something is wrong, for sure."