Of course Shohei Ohtani should pitch for Dodgers

Whether Shohei Ohtani should pitch for the Dodgers once he’s fully recovered from surgery to repair the UCL in his throwing arm shouldn’t be a question. He should absolutely be back on the bump once his health allows.

However, an outstanding start to the 2024 campaign at the plate has led some to ponder whether he should continue focusing on hitting. The argument is that he’s made such a leap at the dish, batting a career-high .356 with a career-best on-base percentage (.425) and slugging percentage (.655).

His value as a hitter is astronomical. And if he was a run-of-the-mill, back-of-the-rotation type of starting pitcher it may be worth considering making him a full-time hitter the rest of his career. The problem is he’s not an average pitcher. He’s very, very good and the Dodgers paid him $700 million in large part because he’s a truly unique two-way threat unlike anything baseball has ever seen.

Ohtani last season with the Angels had 599 plate appearances in 135 games, slashing .304/.412/.654 while clubbing 44 home runs and generating a whopping 180 runs-created plus. While the numbers fall short of what he’s done to start this year, it’s still a sensational season that LA would certainly take from their superstar.

Now we can tack on 132.0 innings on the mound in 23 starts, 11.39 strikeouts per nine innings, and a 3.14 ERA. And that was a down year for him as a pitcher. In 2022 his numbers were even better with 11.87 K/9 and a 2.33 ERA in 166.0 innings. 

Given where he’d slot into a fully healthy Dodgers’ rotation, let’s call it No. 3 behind Tyler Glasnow and Walker Buehler, he’d be overqualified for that spot and adding some much-needed depth to Los Angeles’ starting rotation. That’s far more important, particularly in the postseason, than the uptick in production at the plate for a lineup as loaded as LA’s. 

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Don’t expect to see Ohtani on the mound in 2024, and perhaps he has some outlier offensive season that forces LA to reconsider how they want to use him. If things stay how they are though, we can fully expect baseball’s most unique superstar to be back on the mound in the starting rotation in 2025. 

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