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He is not the best pitcher in the American League. He simply not there yet. With more consistency, he can definitely be the league’s best. But Ohtani is only a good/great pitcher at the moment. His flashes of brilliance have been shadowed by command issues. Nevertheless he is baseball’s most exciting player and he should be the starting pitcher for the American League.
Kyle Gibson vs Shohei Ohtani
Kyle Gibson should be the starting pitcher for the American League in any normal year. His 1.98 ERA has earned him that right but Ohtani deserves to be seen from a different perspective. Ohtani owns a 3.49 ERA which is good, it doesn’t compare to Kyle Gibson’s.
So why does Ohtani deserve to start? Because of his participating in the Home Run Derby. Ohtani will participate in the 2021 Home Run Derby on July 12th. We can assume that he will be looking to win the competition so yes he will be swinging hard and often. Given the energy he is going to exhaust one day before the All Star Game, he shouldn’t be in the lineup for too long.
Ohtani needs to be starter to warm up
Since the American League team will be the visitors, they will bat first. Ohtani will be guaranteed at least one at-bat since he will most likely bat third in the lineup. If he is the starting pitcher, he will have the time to warm up just like any other start. He most likely would need more time to warm up since the Home Run Derby is sure to cause some hurdles in terms of how he loosens up.
With that in mind, Ohtani will likely only pitch the opening inning and be done for the night. Yes that sounds like a let down but that is the price that must be paid for him participating in the Home Run Derby. One inning pitched and one at-bat does not give him a lot of time to do something special but that’s okay. While Ohtani’s pitching has been inconsistent, his batting has always been extraordinary.
Home Run Derby should take precedence at this point
Will Ohtani win the Home Run Derby? He can. So why not enjoy his talents there and then use the All Star Game as more of a reminder of what he did the night before? Seems like someone needs to make sure that too much isn’t asked of Ohtani since he is the only reason that the Angels are only 5 games back instead of 25.