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Shohei Ohtani’s speed shows an alarming dip; arm pain prompts Angels to schedule MRI

Early on, Joe Maddon goes crazy for Angels fans.

Shohei Ohtani left Sunday’s game after being largely ineffective vs. the Astros, threw an inning and two-thirds, gave up two runs, but perhaps the most alarming, walked five (four in the second inning).

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The bad start followed another bad start from Ohtani, with his total number of the season not great despite a small sample size: two starts, 1 2/3 innings, 37.50 ERA. Well, the worst is getting worse, with Ohtani heading to an MRI after experiencing pain in his pitching arm.

Unfortunately for Ohtani and the Angels, there was a poignant trend in his speed on Sunday, with his fastball speed taking a worrying dip as his outing progressed. According to MLB.com’s Mike Petriello, that trend is similar to the last start Ohtani had before it was discontinued and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018.

It was a tough time for the Angels and new manager Joe Maddon, whose pitching staff were roughly as expected in 2020 – as in, not great. Luckily for the Angels, both Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning seemed encouraging answers for the spin, but without Ohtani, there are questions of how far the Angels will go if they make it into the postseason. That’s a big one right now.

The bullpen is perhaps the bigger problem, with the Angels blowing five out of six save opportunities as early as 2020 and having the fourth worst xFIP in MLB at 5.19, per Fangraphs. If you’re new to baseball, that’s not great!

Maddon has long been questioned for his unorthodox approach to pitching and bullpen use, which seems to have followed him back to Los Angeles in his first year as an Angels manager. If they are without Ohtani, it is bad. And if Maddon can’t figure out what’s going wrong, things get even worse for LA.

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