FREE NOW on MLB.TV: Ohtani pitches, hits

May 20th, 2021

How does Shohei Ohtani keep wowing us? It's not as if he hasn't already done things nobody's done before. And yet, here we are, waiting with bated breath for the next time the two-way Angels star takes the mound or comes to the plate. You can watch him pull double duty, making his sixth start and hitting in one of tonight's MLB.TV Free Games of the Day (Blackout restrictions apply, although live audio still will be available through MLB.TV in local markets.). The game is also available on MLB Network.

Nobody wants to miss a single pitch or plate appearance by Ohtani, so don't miss the Angels hosting the Indians tonight at 8:07 p.m. ET. The other Free Game of the Day is another great matchup, with the Yankees taking on the Rangers in Arlington at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Ohtani is topping his own awe-inspiring feats seemingly every day, and is leading the Majors with 14 home runs after launching four homers over his last five games. He also owns a 2.10 ERA with 40 strikeouts in five starts so far in 2021. He'll face a Cleveland lineup that features its own powerful sluggers, José Ramírez and Franmil Reyes.

Here's a quick breakdown of the matchup:

How they're doing
Indians (22-18, 2nd in AL Central)
Angels (18-23, 4th in AL West)

The Indians are hanging tough in the AL Central, still within striking distance of the White Sox, who lead the division by 2 1/2 games. Cleveland snapped a four-game losing streak with a 6-5 victory over the Angels on Tuesday night. The Angels, meanwhile, suffered a big blow when superstar center fielder Mike Trout strained his right calf -- he'll be out six to eight weeks. But with Ohtani still raking, the Halos have a glimmer of hope if they can get better performances from their starting rotation.

The matchup on the mound
Indians -- Adam Civale (5-1, 3.40 ERA in eight starts)
Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.10 ERA in five starts)

Civale has had an up-and-down 2021 campaign so far -- over his first four starts of the season, he posted a 2.42 ERA with opponents batting .161 against him, but in four starts since, his ERA is 4.33 with opposing batters hitting .265 against him. Ohtani, meanwhile, has been overpowering, with his best start coming in his last outing, on May 11 at Houston. In that game, he struck out 10 Astros while walking one and yielding just one run over seven innings.

The player to watch
Who else? Ohtani is the most exciting player in baseball right now, and he's doing things that haven't been seen in a century. On any given day, he could be throwing 100 mph from the mound or launching a 450-foot home run -- or both! -- all while displaying incredible speed on the basepaths. So far, 2021 has been the year of Ohtani, and if he continues to do what he's been doing, he could turn in one of the greatest individual seasons in baseball history, both on the mound and at the plate. He doesn't seem real, and yet he is. Don't miss the moment.

Don't forget him
Ramírez has always been an underrated star, finishing among the top three in AL MVP Award voting in three of the last five seasons. He's flying under the radar again this year, but you can never forget about him -- he matched Ohtani on Tuesday night with a homer of his own, and is tied for second in baseball behind Ohtani with 12 home runs this season.

Picture this
The Indians-Angels tilt Wednesday night will feature the two players who have barreled the baseball more often than anyone else in MLB this season -- Ohtani and Reyes. Ohtani entered play Tuesday with a barrel rate (percentage of batted balls that were barreled) of 21.5 percent, and Reyes was right behind him, at 20.9 percent. One thing Ohtani has that Reyes doesn't when it comes to barrel rate? The barrel rate against him when he's on the mound, which is just 4.2 percent.

Number of note
Entering the 2021 season, Ohtani was homering, on average, once every 18.4 at-bats. So far this season, he's averaging a home run every 11.1 at-bats.