‘Mistake on sweeper in the middle → home run allowed’ in 5-run collapse, Ohtani says “pitch selection needs to change”

Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani (29) has been up and down on the mound lately.

In his last start against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on March 3, Ohtani gave up five runs on nine hits (two home runs) with one walk and six strikeouts in six innings. At the plate, he batted leadoff and went 1-for-4 with a walk.

According to MLB.com, “Ohtani appeared to be getting back on track. But familiar problems resurfaced in this game, as he struggled to retire batters on two strikes and allowed two home runs,” pointing to his recent struggles.

The five hits with two strikes raised his season ERA to 3.30. “I think it’s because of my pitch selection and pitches that I couldn’t control,” Ohtani said, “I feel like if I had more strikeouts, the momentum would have gone our way, but it didn’t work out that way.”

According to MLB.com, “Ohtani, the 2021 American League MVP, posted a 0.64 ERA in his first five starts before slumping to a 6.12 ERA in his next four, allowing eight homers in 25 innings. After adjusting his sweeper, he appeared to have solved the problem in his last two starts against Minnesota and Miami, both of which were six innings of one-run ball, but he gave up a season-high five runs again against Houston.”

Ohtani has been very much a sweeper this season. In this game, he threw 38 pitches (36%) out of 107 pitches, the highest percentage of sweepers, 안전놀이터 but his swinging strike rate was not as high at 19%. Against Jordan Alvarez, he allowed a home run on a sweeper up the middle.

Phil Nevin said, “It’s a good sweeper, but you can’t throw a bad pitch and then another bad pitch. Hitters don’t miss the second one very often. He threw it down a bad path. We need to talk about pitch selection.”

Nevertheless, the trust in Ohtani’s sweeper remains. “When you look at his swings and misses and his strikeout rate, it’s amazing in a good way,” Nevin said. Out of 145 swings, only four have resulted in a hit. It just so happens that three of those four were home runs. One of the best pitches in the major leagues. I wish I could see the numbers. A few pitches went for strikes,” he said, emphasizing that Ohtani’s sweeper is still a powerful pitch.

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