Angels host Rays as Shohei Ohtani a question mark

MLB

Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to make his fourth start of the season Monday night when the Los Angeles Angels begin a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays in Anaheim, Calif., but whether he will start is up in the air.

The Angels’ right-hander was hit by a 93 mph fastball on his pitching elbow in a 2-0 loss to the Mariners on Sunday but remained in the game. Manager Joe Maddon said after the game that Ohtani still could pitch — and hit — against the Rays but that he wouldn’t be sure until game day.

“He’s sore,” Maddon said. “He’s being looked at right now. I talked to him during the course of the game. I don’t know how sore it’s gonna be tonight, or tomorrow morning, so that’ll be something we have to look at regarding him pitching tomorrow. But it’s too early to tell that right now.”

Should he get the go-ahead to pitch, Ohtani could hit as well. He has batted for himself in two of his three starts on the mound and is 3 for 6 with a walk, home run, four runs scored and three RBIs.

On the mound, there hasn’t been a discernible difference from when Ohtani (1-0, 3.29 ERA) hits in the lineup or doesn’t hit. He got his only victory in his most recent start when he gave up four first-inning runs against Texas on April 26 but nothing more and completed five innings, striking out a season-best nine, all while going 2 for 3 at the plate.

In the one game he didn’t hit, Ohtani threw four scoreless innings and allowed just one hit but did walk six batters. The Angels are 3-0 in games Ohtani has been on the mound this season.

Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki are the Angels’ catchers, but it seems Suzuki has connected with Ohtani and for the time being will be behind the plate when Ohtani is on the mound.

“You try to build that relationship, you build that trust with each pitcher,” Suzuki said. “Obviously, (with) different personalities you tend to do different things to try to communicate with each of them. Obviously, Shohei is a special athlete, special pitcher and you know he has an idea of what he really wants to do on the mound, and you just try to get on the same page.”

Ohtani has faced the Rays once in his career, getting a victory after allowing two runs in 7 2/3 innings of a game in 2018.

Right-hander Tyler Glasnow (3-1, 1.67) will be on the mound for Tampa Bay. He is coming off one of his best starts of the season last Wednesday when he threw seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out 10 against Oakland.

He’s allowed one run or less in five of his six starts, the only blemish on his record coming April 23 when he gave up five runs in six innings against Toronto.

“Basically every time he pitches, it’s just pretty remarkable stuff, the way he’s able to repeat it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

While Glasnow is capable of hitting 100 mph on the radar gun, Rays catcher Mike Zunino said much of Glasnow’s success can be attributed to his willingness to mix in his slider, curveball and changeup.

“It just opened up his menu of pitches, and it’s kept guys on their toes,” Zunino said. “If he’s coming with an off-speed pitch, it just throws guys off a little bit, and they still have to respect 97-plus.”

Glasnow has made two career starts against the Angels, going 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA.

–Field Level Media

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