During his first start against the Oakland Athletics, Anaheim’s two-way star hammered the A’s with a bunch of attention grabbing fastballs and sliders through six innings of work while giving up three earned runs for his first win in the MLB. Since then he’s only started in three more games while pitching 4.43/3.85/3.35 in 20.1 innings.
Looking at Shohei Ohtani’s stat line, the first thing that jumps out to me is how much higher his ERA is than his FIP, that indicates that the Angels lackluster defense (outside of Mike Trout) has caused him some problems. The other thing that caught my eye is that the 23-year old is currently suffering from some dinger problems — currently 16.7% of fly balls hit against him are turning into home runs. That high rate of home runs seems to be just some bad luck as only 26.1% of contact against him is hard contact, which means that home run to fly ball ratio seems ripe for regression.
Ohtani’s fastball has been his preferred pitch this season as he’s using it nearly 45% of the time. As for his slider, it’s been used just over 22% of the time which helps keep batters off-balance. But his secondary pitch is easily his splitter (30.3%), and it’s absolutely nasty how his splitter drops out before it crosses the plate.
What’s even more impressive his mix of pitches is how Ohtani is already baffling batters. Heading into Sunday, the rookie is freezing hitters as 41.1% of his pitches are called strikes — Garrit Cole‘s currently freezing batters on 50.2% of his pitches and he’s leading the majors in strikeouts. Now part of the reason Ohtani is freezing batters is because this is the first time most of these guys have seen him and they don’t know what his pitches look like live. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to continue to freeze batters somewhere near his current rate as he faces lineups for third and fourth times.
All of this means that Ohtani is currently boasting a strikeout rate of 32.1% with a walk rate of 11.1% and opponents are currently hitting .194 off of the 23-year old. So far this season he’s been worth 0.3 wins as a pitcher (fWAR) and is projected to finish the season a being 2.4 wins from the pitcher’s mound.
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