Wed Sep 11 4:13am ET
Designated hitter Shohei Ohtani likely will be in the lineup Wednesday for the Los Angeles Angels in the series finale against the Cleveland Indians as he attempts to finish the season strong.
After winning the American League Rookie of the Year award last year, this season has been more of a struggle. For starters, a torn elbow ligament and subsequent Tommy John surgery has kept him off the mound after an impressive performance last year -- 4-2, 3.31 ERA in 10 starts.
The injury also kept him out of the lineup for the first 34 games of the season and has limited him to the designated hitter role. Though he's had more rough patches at the plate this year, his numbers are not all that different than last season's.
In 104 games last season, Ohtani hit .285 with 22 homers, 61 RBIs, a .361 on-base percentage and .564 slugging percentage. In 105 games this season, he is hitting .288 with 17 homers, 61 RBIs, a .344 OBP and .501 slugging percentage.
He has managed to put up those numbers this year despite a slump that saw him go 4-for-37 from Aug. 21-Sept. 4, dropping his batting average from .307 to .286. It included a 15-inning game against Boston on Aug. 30 in which he went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.
The slump prompted an effort to make some mechanical adjustments, and they briefly appeared to have paid off, as he had a five-RBI game against the White Sox on Saturday. However, he is hitless in eight at-bats over the past two games.
"The last few days he's picked it up," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said before his team's 8-0 loss to the Indians on Tuesday. "He had struggled there for a bit. He started working on some stuff trying to clean up the mechanics in his swing. He seems to be reaping the benefits of it; we're reaping the benefits of it."
"I'm not only happy with the results, but the process and how I'm feeling at the plate," Ohtani said. "I feel a lot better."
Ohtani and his Angels teammates on Wednesday will face Indians right-hander Adam Plutko, who is 6-4 with a 4.44 ERA in 17 games this season. Plutko has faced the Angels once in his career, and it came Aug. 3 when he allowed one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings during a 7-2 win.
Ohtani went 1-for-3 against Plutko in that game with a double.
"I thought he was really good," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Plutko after that outing. "He pitched like he has to pitch. He stayed out of the middle of the plate, changed speeds. He threw a pretty good breaking ball at times."
Left-hander Dillon Peters, who will start for the Angels, is 3-2 with a 4.45 ERA in 13 games this season, and possibly his best game of the year came in his only appearance against the Indians on Aug. 2.
Taylor Cole was the Angels' opener, but he managed to get only one out while giving up four runs on four hits and one walk. Peters initially was scheduled to begin the second inning, but he was needed to rescue Cole and get the final two outs of the first inning.
Peters wound up finishing the game, going 7 2/3 innings in a 7-3 loss. He allowed three runs on eight hits and did not walk a batter while striking out five.
It is unclear if Peters will have Mike Trout behind him in center field on Wednesday.
Trout was not in the starting lineup Tuesday for the fourth game in a row because of a nerve issue in his right foot.
"It's really how he feels," Ausmus said of Trout's status for Wednesday. "The doctor said two days, and then it's really how Mike feels. We'll see. But with the off day on Thursday, if he hedges at all, I'm going to pull the plug. If he comes in and feels good, we have been cleared to play him."
--Field Level Media