Shohei Ohtani Tears UCL, Done Pitching for Season

Shohei Ohtani leaving the game after what turned out to be a torn UCL.
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Two-way Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani left his start early against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday afternoon. Exiting with a trainer in the second inning, Ohtani felt discomfort in his right arm, and his exit was described as “arm fatigue.” Hours later, the Angels diagnosed Ohtani with a torn UCL after MRIs revealed the injury. The extent of the damage is unknown, but for now, Ohtani, as a pitcher, is done for 2023.

Perry Minasian, the Angels general manager, had this to say about Ohtani’s injury: “As far as plans and details, I don’t have those yet. I’ve been in contact with his representation.” He added, “Obviously he hit the second game. He’s played with this in ’18, but with that being said, we’ll take it day by day and see where it goes. Obviously, disappointing news. I feel terrible for him. But it is what it is. If anybody can bounce back, it’s him.”

Ohtani’s pitches seemed to have already been affected by an ailment in his start against the Reds. According to Statcast metrics, Ohtani’s fastball dropped by almost four mph and his sweeper by five mph. The phenom pitcher held the Reds scoreless in 26 pitches, giving up no hits while striking out two. Ohtani blasted a two-run homer in the first inning. The Angels lost the game, 9–4, after the Reds offense picked up the pace.

Ohtani had Tommy John surgery in September 2018 and returned as a hitter the following season. In 2019, Ohtani hit .286 and had 18 home runs in 106 games. This season he has been an animal at the plate, hitting a major league-leading 44 home runs and is batting .304. With a league-leading OPS of 1.069, Ohtani’s hitting skills may be more impressive than his pitching.

Ohtani Free Agency

The two-way superstar has dazzled this season. With his upcoming free agency this winter, almost all teams that can afford Ohtani will look for his signature. Ohtani’s two-way stardom has positioned him as the most exciting free agency in all of sports. His vast market in the world has set himself to be the face of baseball. With a losing record with the Angels in his career, some pundits predict that Ohtani will the team in free agency. Ohtani’s 9.4 Wins Above Replacement places him among the best individual seasons of all time. Although Ohtani’s UCL damage is unknown, his hitting skills position him well to break the record for AAV and total value. Mike Trout‘s $426,500,000 contract in 2019 broke the record for total value; however, Ohtani’s estimated value could reach over $500 million.

With hitting stats that could rival Aaron Judge‘s spectacular 2022 season and pitching stats that put him in the top ten of pitcher power rankings, Ohtani’s spectacle is something fans haven’t seen in nearly a century. The 29-year-old will likely miss the playoffs again this season, so his decision in free agency will be interesting. Although Ohtani’s pitching career may be sidelined for quite some time, teams will still dish out big money for Ohtani.

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Brooks Thomason

As a up and coming writer, Brooks has been born and raised as an Atlanta Braves fan. Going through the years of Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Brian McCann as a kid, to Freddie Freeman, and Acuña, Brooks has seen Braves stars come and go. However, his fandom always remains with Braves Country.

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