Ohtani thinks he can improve as a pitcher

ANAHEIM – Despite how well Shohei Ohtani has thrown after the All-Star break, the Japanese star doesn’t think he’s reached his best as a pitcher.

“Physically, I feel great, but I think I’m getting better with every start and that I haven’t reached my potential yet,” Ohtani said. “I think I still have room to improve more in the future.”

Ohtani pitched his fifth start in a row of six or more innings on Thursday, beating the Blue Jays to make his record 5-0 at Angel Stadium, where he has a 1.92 ERA in 10 starts. His ERA in the second half of the season is 1.44 in 25 innings.

Angels manager Joe Maddon, who has been very pleased with Ohtani’s work on the mound, said he thinks Ohtani may be trying to go further in his starts. But given that Ohtani only released 1.2 acts in 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018, Maddon said the club is being careful with its workload.

“We continue to follow him closely,” Maddon said. “He hardly launched last year. Whatever the jump (in innings) ends up being, it’s going to be something dramatic, and we’re aware of that. “

In 17 starts in 2021, the furthest Ohtani has gone in a game is seven innings, something he has accomplished three times.

In most cases, Maddon said he hasn’t been taking special care of Ohtani, adding that the better control he’s shown in recent weeks could help him add more innings per game.

“I’m not leading it on a short rope,” Maddon said. “He’s putting up good numbers, but I don’t want to push him too far, either. He could improve even more in that sense (throwing his starts further) because his control is much better… I appreciate what he is saying, but it is difficult for him to shoot better than he is doing ”.