Ohtani had been scheduled to start Friday’s series opener against Oakland, but he was pushed back because of arm soreness. Ohtani experience soreness after a start against the Astros on Sept. 10 in which he allowed six runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings and showed somewhat decreased velocity. Soon after manager Joe Maddon indicated that Ohtani might not pitch again this season. However, Ohtani threw a 32-pitch bullpen session on Friday, and after that the decision was made to return him to the mound on Sunday.
Ohtani as a pitcher this season has registered a 3.36 ERA (134 ERA+) with 136 strikeouts and 41 walks in 115 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he’s batted .256/.359/.598 (155 OPS+) with 44 home runs and 23 stolen bases. That two-way excellence has made Ohtani the frontrunner for AL MVP honors this season, although Blue Jays slugger and triple crown threat Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has increasingly become part of that conversation.
While the Angels are effectively out of contention, a strong final start or three by Ohtani on the mound this season will help his already potent MVP argument. He’ll come into Sunday’s start having allowed 12 runs in his last 15 1/3 innings.