Angels' Shohei Ohtani won't pitch again this season

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Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to home plate during the first inning.
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani finishes the season with a 9-2 record and 3.18 ERA in 23 starts. (Michael Owen Baker / Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani has thrown his last pitch of the 2021 season.

The Angels two-way star will not make another pitching start this year, manager Joe Maddon announced Wednesday before the Angels’ 7-2 win against the Texas Rangers.

Maddon said the decision was mutual between the team and Ohtani, who will continue to serve as the club’s designated hitter over the final four games.

“Just talking with him, he just felt as though it’s the right time to shut it down right now,” Maddon said, adding: “He finished with two really strong outings, and there’s really nothing to gain right now. It’s probably the best thing to have him not pitch. But again, this was a conversation with him.”

Ohtani, 27, finishes the season as a pitcher with a 9-2 record and 3.18 ERA in 23 starts. In 130 1/3 innings, he struck out 156 batters and had a WHIP of 1.09.

And he did it all after making only three pitching starts in the 2½ previous seasons because of arm injuries.

“There’s really nothing left to prove on the mound,” Maddon said. “He’s exceeded expectations on the mound this year.”

Coming into the year, there were questions about whether Ohtani could recapture the dominant pitching form he flashed during his career in Japan and the first half of his 2018 rookie season in the big leagues.

But after benefiting from a healthy offseason, he looked sharp from the outset.

Once the season began, he and the team laid out his schedule on a start-by-start basis, keeping him on a normal cycle in the pitching rotation as long as he felt fresh.

He missed a couple of outings because of a blister in April, and also dealt with fatigue and arm soreness later in the season.

But he never went on the injured list, instead posting the lowest ERA by an Angels pitcher with at least 20 starts since Garrett Richards in 2014.

He became the second Angels pitcher since 2016 (along with Andrew Heaney in 2018) to have 130 innings and 150 strikeouts in a season.

And combined with his production as DH, Ohtani is seemingly the favorite to win the AL MVP award.

He has 45 home runs, 98 RBIs and, after collecting two steals during a two-hit game on Wednesday, 26 steals — becoming only the second player in American League history, along with Jose Canseco in 1998, to have 45 homers and 25 steals in a season.

“This is the first year of a lot of groundbreaking stuff by him,” Maddon said. “And I think it’s going to continue.”

Indeed, as Maddon looked ahead to the offseason and next year, he was confident the right-hander would be able to build upon his breakthrough 2021 performance.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.