Latest Shohei Ohtani update is horribly depressing for Angels

Shohei Ohtani continues to deal with arm ailments as the Los Angeles Angels' season winds down.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Angels continue to spiral out of postseason contention in the AL West, now five games below .500 and 10 games behind third-place Seattle. To make matters worse, soon-to-be MVP Shohei Ohtani can't stay healthy.

Ohtani's unique two-way stardom has been on full display for the Angels this season, but "arm fatigue" has been a persistent problem of late. Ohtani was removed from the mound in the second inning of Los Angeles' loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.

The Japanese superstar struck out two batters and smacked a two-run homer, his 44th of the season, in the first inning. One has to imagine Ohtani is bummed, especially as the team's season crumbles around him. Not long ago, the Angels were in the thick of the wild card race. Now, with a consequential free agency period on the horizon, there's more uncertainty than ever.

Shohei Ohtani exits Los Angeles Angels loss early with arm injury

Ohtani had his last start pushed back due to arm fatigue and he battled a lingering blister on his pitching hand prior to the All-Star break. As Christian Arnold of the New York Post notes, Ohtani's velocity is down too. His fastballs sat between 91 and 94 MPH on Wednesday, while his average velocity is 96.9 MPH.

In short, the last couple of months have been rough for Ohtani -- on the mound, at least. His numbers for the season are admirable (10-5 on 3.17 ERA and 1.064 WHIP), but Ohtani shoulders a massive workload for the Angels. On top of the periodical starts, he's in the lineup every game taking several hacks at the ball. Los Angeles has milked all it can out of the Ohtani superstar experience, but the wear and tear is starting to show.

As Los Angeles fades further and further from contention, it will be interesting to see how the team handles Ohtani's pitch count. He probably deserves a few rest days in general, but he's also a huge financial draw for ownership. Plus, while the Angels have every intention of keeping Ohtani long-term, there's a more-than-fair chance he walks in the offseason. This could become a situation where the Angels try to get every last ounce out of Ohtani while he's still around, which probably isn't the best approach for Ohtani on a personal level.

The Angels won't tell you they're thinking about free agency right now, but Ohtani has spent six seasons with Los Angeles and he has watched the playoffs from home every time. Now 29 years old, Ohtani is entering the middle of his baseball prime with a franchise that has failed him on numerous occasions. One has to imagine he will seriously consider alternatives, perhaps as nearbyS as the cross-town Dodgers or the upstate Giants.

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