No reason to be concerned about Shohei Ohtani…yet

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 26: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 26, 2020 in Oakland, California. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 26: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 26, 2020 in Oakland, California. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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In his much anticipated first start of the season, Shohei Ohtani absolutely bombed for the Los Angeles Angels.

September 2, 2018. That was the last time that Shohei Ohtani had set foot on the mound in a major league game of any sort. In that contest, he allowed two runs on two hits and two walks, striking out two in 2.1 innings. His elbow issues were too much for him to overcome, leading to the Tommy Joh surgery that kept him off the mound for 2019.

However, he was healthy once again, and ready to establish himself as a force on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels. His outing on Sunday was one of the more anticipated starts of the season thus far. And then, Ohtani could not get anyone out…

He did not end up recording a single out in his start, allowing five runs on three hits and three walks. Ohtani threw 30 pitches in total, 15 of which were for strikes. On the positive side, his slider did look as good as it had prior to his surgery; however, his fastball velocity was two miles per hour slower on average.

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These struggles should not be much of a surprise for the Angels. Ohtani had issues with his command throughout summer camp, allowing 16 walks in his three simulated games. While he had displayed signs of progress with each subsequent outing, those games are not equal to actually performing in a real contest.

This is also a part of the recovery/rehabilitation process. Under normal circumstances, he would have been able to work those kinks out in the minors, making several rehab starts to get ready. However, that is not a luxury that Ohtani, nor the Angels, have with the shortened season and lack of a minor league campaign.

At this point, it is far too early for the Angels to be concerned about Ohtani on the mound. Command is one of the last pieces to return after this surgery, which is a major issue right now. Eventually, as long as the Angels remain patient, that should remedy itself. The question is – how much time will they give Ohtani to work his way back?

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Shohei Ohtani had a rough first start in 2020. However, it is not a cause for concern, at least not just yet.