3. A healthy 2019 for Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani is one of the saving graces (alongside Andrelton Simmons) of the Angels’ moves over the last few years. Ohtani entered the league with a ton of intrigue last year as he presented the unheard dual-threat ability of being an elite pitcher and an elite hitter at the big league level.
There were quite a few teams that were interested in Ohtani and were in the running for the Japanese star last winter. It was the Angels who walked away as the winners of the sweepstakes, although the move was still risky.
While Ohtani thrived in Japan, nobody knew how he would respond to big league pitching and hitting and there was a chance that he could have been one of the biggest foreign flops of all-time. He hasn’t shown any signs of being that thus far, which is good for the Angels.
However, the Angels’ front office also mishandled Ohtani last season when the team allowed him to keep playing despite concerns with his elbow. While he was shut down from the mound rather early, he continued to play on a team that was not contending anyways instead of fixing the problem earlier.
What resulted was Tommy John Surgery for Ohtani after the season that will hold him off a big league mound until 2020. However, he still is able to hit in 2019, granted of course that he is comfortable at the plate post-surgery.
There is a chance that the Angels hold him out entirely in 2019 but after their managing in 2018, I doubt that will be the case. When it is all said and done, Ohtani is more valuable on the mound for the Angels, so Angel fans should be praying that another injury doesn’t set Ohtani back even further in 2019.