Japanese superstar, Shohei Ohtani, has been cleared to resume throwing for the Los Angeles Angels. The Los Angeles Angels, two-way player, was trying to avoid having to face Tommy John Surgery, and appears to be clear of that at this point. The return of Ohtani could provide a huge boost to the Angels in their late-season playoff push.
The Los Angeles Angels gave an update on Thursday, and stated that Ohtani’s ulnar collateral ligament, “continues to show improved healing.” Tommy John surgery was one theory to heal Ohtani, but the Japanese pitcher decided to try other treatments first. Ohtani had platelet-rich plasma and stem cells injected into his ulnar collateral ligament. Ohtani has not pitched since June 6 against the Kansas City Royals. Ohtani lasted just four innings in that game and complained about soreness after completing the start.
The Angels won a highly contested bidding war for the services of the 24-year-old Ohtani. Los Angeles appeared to be getting both an MVP and Cy Young candidate in Ohtani, but he has struggled in his first season in the Major Leagues. The Angels had hoped that the addition of Ohtani, along with Mike Trout, would push them to the top of the American League West division.
Ohtani returned to the Angels on July 3rd but struck out three times in his first four at-bats in that game. Since being activated off the disabled list, Ohtani is just 6-24, but did belt a game-winning home run to beat the Dodgers on July 8. Ohtani is hitting .283 with seven homers in his 138 at bats this season. It appears that Ohtani should be able to remain on the active roster as a hitter through the remainder of the 2018 season.
When healthy, Ohtani showed great promise on the mound for the Angels. The hard throwing right-hander was 4-1 with a 3.10 earned run average in his nine starts this season. Ohtani compiled 61 strikeouts in just 49.1 innings pitched.
The Angels will use the remainder of the season to determine whether or not Ohtani’s UCL will require Tommy John surgery. If the surgery is needed, Ohtani would likely not be able to return until the 2020 season. Fellow Angels pitcher, Garrett Richards, underwent Tommy John surgery a few weeks ago, and will also be set to return in 2020. Los Angeles hopes that alternative treatments can spare Ohtani of the surgery.
The Angels are in danger of missing the postseason for the 4th straight year. The Los Angeles Angels begin the second half of the season by hosting the Houston Astros. The Angels trail the Astros by 14 games in the American League West, with a 49-48 record. If the Angels are going to make the 2018 playoffs, the American League Wild Card appears to be their only chance. Los Angeles sits in fifth place in the Wild Card standings, but are still 9 games in back of the Seattle Mariners for the second Wild Card spot.