Just days after being ruled out from Thursday’s game against the Chicago White Sox due to soreness in his right arm, Shohei Ohtani delivered a gem of an outing against the Oakland A’s. In eight innings of work, Ohtani stuck out 10 batters and gave up just two runs and five hits. However, despite the Japanese phenom’s outstanding performance, the Angels weren’t able to retaliate following Jed Lowrie‘s sac-fly that put the A’s on top in the 10th.

Angels manager Joe Maddon was particularly impressed by Ohtani’s use of his splitter, “He has good command of it. You saw the swing and miss or the weak contact. He’s based on feel. When he’s feeling something, he’s gonna stay with it and not force something else.”

According to Statcast, Ohtani’s 55 splitters were the most thrown by a pitcher in a game since 2008. 17 of these splitters generated swinging strikes.

The Angels’ star pitcher explained that the high volume of splitters is intended to prevent injury. It’s also a ridiculously effective pitch, as batters are only hitting a microscopic .067 against it.

“The biggest goal I had coming into this year was staying healthy and finishing healthy, and in order to do that, I felt I needed to balance certain pitches, because some pitches are more stressful on your elbow,” he said. “We only have a couple games left. I feel good physically, so I wanted to try more splitters.”

Ohtani is now 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 146 strikeouts. On the offensive end, he’s hitting .257 with 44 homers, 94 RBIs and 93 runs scored.

He leads all of baseball in Wins Above Replacement with 8.1 and will almost certainly win the AL MVP award once his mythological campaign is over.

 

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