The matchup between Ohtani’s Angels and Rodríguez’s Mariners is MLB.TV's Free Game of the Day.
The Angels are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014 in what might be a transformational year for the organization. With Ohtani in his final year of club control before reaching free agency, there is even more urgency for the Angels to make a competitive playoff push. With Mike Trout in the fold, a potential top-10 rotation, and an influx of new offseason additions, their path to get to the playoffs is more clear than it's been in some time. Their 2023 season is off to a good start; they outscored the A's 19-1 in consecutive wins after dropping their season opener.
Ohtani, meanwhile, just had two of the greatest seasons of all time. From 2021-22, Ohtani hit a combined 80 home runs with a 151 OPS+ as a hitter while striking out 375 batters with a 156 ERA+ on the mound. He unanimously won the AL Most Valuable Player Award in 2021, finished second to Aaron Judge in 2022, and took home MVP honors at the World Baseball Classic. His 2023 season is off to a good start as he struck out 10 batters in six scoreless innings on Opening Night and crushed his first home run (447 feet) of the season on Sunday.
The Mariners are fresh off a 90-win season and their first playoff appearance since 2001. Years of meticulous roster construction culminated last year with the positive development of players like Rodríguez, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby while newcomers such as Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray helped round out the roster. While last year was viewed as a huge success and step forward, the Mariners are looking to de-throne the Astros atop of the AL West. After winning their 2023 season opener, they dropped the remaining three games against the Guardians.
To continue their success, the Mariners will look to Rodríguez to lead the way. Rodríguez is the reigning AL Rookie of the Year and one of the game's brightest young stars. As a 21-year-old, Rodríguez hit 28 home runs with a 147 OPS+ while swiping 25 bases and playing superb center field defense. He even added in a spectacular performance at last year's Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium. After signing a mega-extension that will keep him in Seattle through at least the 2034 season, Rodríguez will be front-and-center of the organization for the next two decades. Rodríguez has a .944 OPS through four games and homered for the first time on Sunday.
Ohtani and Rodríguez aren't the only stars in this game. Trout isn't just one of the best players of his generation; he's notoriously crushed Mariners pitching to the tune of 54 home runs and a 1.098 OPS in 178 career games. Those 54 home runs are the most by any active player against one team. Trout's 2023 season is off to a great start as he hit his first home run of the season on Sunday and is rocking a 1.318 OPS.
Reid Detmers and Kirby, Monday's starting pitchers, are two of the best rookie pitchers from last season and are primed for even bigger seasons for their respective clubs in 2023. Detmers, who threw a no-hitter and tossed an immaculate inning as a rookie in 2022, has shown a sizable velocity increase this spring. Kirby, meanwhile, is a potential dark horse Cy Young candidate thanks to an impressive combination of stuff and command.