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Shohei Ohtani exits 1st start in 2 weeks early due to arm fatigue

Ohtani skipped his previous start on the mound

Shohei Ohtani's return to the mound lasted five batters Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Angels' two-way phenom exited his start against the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning due to arm fatigue, the team announced. He did not remain in the game as a designated hitter.

There wasn't much of a debate about removing Ohtani, as he called for the training staff after a pitch and soon left the game.

Ohtani had been pitching for the first time in two weeks after missing his previous turn in the rotation due to arm fatigue. Angels manager Phil Nevin emphasized at the time that Ohtani wasn't injured, calling the issue "regular arm fatigue" and promising that Ohtani would be ready for this week's series against the Reds.

Ohtani's pitches were significantly down in velocity during Wednesday's start, with his four-seam fastball averaging 3.8 mph lower than his season numbers, per Baseball Savant.

Curiously, the Angels replaced Ohtani with starting pitcher Tyler Anderson rather than a reliever. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register surmised that the Angels might've known something was wrong with Ohtani, given that Nevin told reporters before the game that his team's pitching this weekend was undetermined.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 23:  Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels leaves the game against the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning during game one of a doubleheader at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 23, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani leaving a start in the second inning with arm fatigue is concerning. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (Ronald Martinez via Getty Images)

Before his exit, Ohtani crushed a 442-foot home run for his 44th of the season, pushing him ahead of Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson for the MLB lead.

At this point, any time lost for Ohtani would be a massive blow for the Angels, though it might already be too late.

The team bet big on making the playoffs with Ohtani in his final season before free agency, buying at the trade deadline by dealing top-100 prospect Edgar Quero and another significant prospect in Ky Bush for Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito. So far, that bet has gone bust, with the team holding a 5-14 record since the deadline.

The Angels sit at 61-65 and a full 10 games back from the third and final AL wild-card spot. Mike Trout is back as of yesterday, but things are clearly not going well in Anaheim.