Shohei Ohtani will get the start for the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif.
The Angels (72-76) considered shutting down Ohtani from pitching the remainder of the season after he complained of soreness in his right arm on Wednesday. But after a bullpen session under the watchful eye of Angels pitching coach Matt Wise on Friday, Ohtani assured Angels manager Joe Maddon he was good to go.
“Wise came in right afterward and said it was like a full guerrilla bullpen, he went after it and Matty liked that,” Maddon said. “Shohei was all about pitching on Sunday so we re-adjusted. It’s up to the athlete. We’ve talked about that slot often, it’s really listening to him, and he was adamant.”
Ohtani (9-2, 3.36 ERA) had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and consequently didn’t pitch at all in 2019. Maddon said he believes Ohtani took to his bullpen session carefully at first before letting it go.
“I think he started it as a test and it got more involved because he felt good,” Maddon said. “Had he been throwing and did not feel well, he probably would have backed right out of it.”
Ohtani is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four career starts against Oakland, including 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts this season.
Frankie Montas (12-9, 3.72) will be on the mound for Oakland (81-67), coming off his shortest start since his very first appearance of the season on April 5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Montas lasted just 3 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in a no-decision at Kansas City on Tuesday.
“His stuff was good,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He was just throwing some balls down the middle, I think. It’s tough to tell from our angle (in the dugout), but (Montas) wasn’t giving up multiple swings in a row that are good swings. You are going to have games like that. But certainly the way he started, it looked like he had really good stuff.”
Before the hiccup against the Royals, Montas had been on a roll. Following a loss to Texas on June 21, he held opposing teams to three earned runs or fewer in 13 consecutive starts.
“Frankie’s got tremendous stuff,” catcher Yan Gomes said. “All his pitches are plus pitches. Once he gets guys to be a little more aggressive and start swinging at his pitches, he can get guys to chase his split-finger or heater up and away.”
Montas has had success against the Angels in his career. He is 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 12 games (nine starts), including 2-1 with a 0.92 ERA in three starts this season.
The A’s enter the game two games out of the second wild card in the American League.
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