Shohei Ohtani’s meteoric rise finally hit an obstacle Tuesday, as the Japanese right-hander struggled on the mound before leaving after two innings due to a blister on his pitching hand.
Ohtani entered Tuesday’s game with a 2.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts in two career starts, both against the Athletics, but he clearly wasn’t the same against the Red Sox early. The two-way phenom allowed four hits and three earned runs in two innings, striking out one and walking two. Ohtani did not come out for a third inning, as the Angels announced he had developed a blister on his pitching hand.
While Ohtani was still bringing his trademark velocity–topping out at 99.8 mph according to Statcast numbers from Baseball Savant–his command of his secondary pitches was nowhere near where it was in his first two starts.
Our first clue that it wasn’t quite Ohtani’s night came early, when Mookie Betts took him deep to open the game. It got a little better from there, but not much. Ohtani got through the rest of the first inning without much trouble, but a rally in the second inning tacked on a couple more runs and served as the end of Ohtani’s night.
As opinions continue to fly around Ohtani and just how good he might be, Tuesday’s game will likely not be a significant piece of evidence either way. For starters, he is 23 years old. Plenty of 23-years-old stumble before reaching their full potential. Additionally, pitchers underperforming in games due to blisters is a problem that came to MLB well before Ohtani, whose hand might not even be used to the MLB ball after a young lifetime in Japan.
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