Less than a week left until release All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. On Wednesday at Angel Stadium, Dusty Baker, who will manage the American League team, got a chance to see one of his potential starting pitchers in person.
Otani had 12 strikeouts, two batters, four hit waivers, and one earned run in six innings and 105 innings. He became the second pitcher in Angels history to hit 10 strikeouts or more in four straight starts. Another pitcher who did this was Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.
Otani is 6-0 in his last six starts, with a 0.45 ERA in that span. The infringement has occurred in each of these last starts, including Wednesday.
“I’m in the lineup of other games that we’re losing, so in that sense, I accept [the losses] personally and try to win the games I offer,” Otani said through translator Ippei Mizuharu after the game.
Otani also contributed two RBIs in a triple he hit Astros starter Christian Javier in the second inning and got one off reliever Brian Abreu in the sixth – he was taken home in the sixth during the team’s four-run rally. The Angels beat the Astros 7-1.
“He’s not just an All-Star, he’s a megastar,” Baker said of Otani before the game. “He is one of the best hitters and one of the best pitchers. And he’s smart – from the way he plays, I can tell that he’s not only talented, but also smart.”
Otani was named the AL’s starting hitter and added to the list of eligible starting pitchers for the All-Star Game for the second year in a row. He was the first player to become a starting pitcher and take the lead, which happened during the 2021 Midsummer Classic.
Baker said Tuesday that Astros ace Justin Verlander will not be in the All-Star Game, so that would rule him out.
However, the other more deserving starter was Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan.
McClanahan had the best ERA in baseball (1.71) among starting pitchers this season as of Wednesday. He also registered 147 strikeouts with just 19 walks in 18 starts (10-3). For reference, Otani had a 2.44 ERA with 111 strikeouts and 20 walks in 14 starts (8-4) through Wednesday.
But that’s all Baker has to decide by Monday, the day before the All-Star Game.
Baker said Wednesday that he has just begun his process of figuring out how to manage his All-Star roster, which begins with him reaching out to those players’ managers to see how they feel, whether they’ll be available to play in the game and their general level of comfort when playing the game.
“I have to take care of their players the same way I take care of my own,” Baker said, explaining that he knows that not every available player will feel 100% healthy. “I know playing doesn’t count… You can play to win, but in this situation you won’t win at any cost,” Baker added.
Among the players Baker said he asked about were Mike Trout, who was not in the starting lineup for the Angels on Wednesday. Trout was pulled from the middle of Tuesday’s game with a cramp in his upper back.
Trout said ahead of Wednesday’s game that he was feeling much better than last night and that his back was starting to hurt and he got over it. On Tuesday evening, his upper back felt more uncomfortable.
The Angels are confident that Trout won’t be on the injured list, and he’s hoping he can play in the All-Star Game.
Home run derby
Otani said he has not yet made a decision on whether he will compete in Monday’s home run derby. He said he still hasn’t heard how much it will be used during the All-Star Game and that is influencing his decision in the derby.
The derby bracket opens on Thursday at 4:00 pm PT.