Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is making an early case to win the American League Cy Young and MVP Awards. Still, former All-Star pitcher Ryan Dempster believes there’s a way the Angels could get even more value out of the two-way phenom.
Wednesday on MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk,” Dempster suggested the Angels move Ohtani to the closer role out of the bullpen, potentially making him available to pitch and hit every day.
“I think Shohei Ohtani could play right field and close,” Dempster said. “Like Mark Kotsay back in the College World Series days — like, I’m going to hit a couple homers, and then when you need somebody to close out the game, I’m going to come out and close the game.”
Ohtani isn’t pitching for Cal State Fullerton in 1995 like Kotsay was, but Dempster’s idea may not be as wild as it seems.
Ohtani found success coming out of the pen for Japan in this year’s World Baseball Classic, proving he could seamlessly transition from starting rotation to closer.
It may be a tough sell pulling a starter who has gone 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP over 11 starts, but the potential payoff is intriguing.
Moving Ohtani to closer would take a Cy Young-caliber starter away from the Angels. However, they’d gain an elite late-inning stopper available almost daily on top of an everyday outfielder capable of MVP numbers.
While Ohtani has delivered as a starter, he’s also excelling with a bat in his hands. On Wednesday, Ohtani notched his 13th career multi-home run game in a 12-5 Angels’ victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Ohtani’s second longball of the day, coming in the fourth inning, was the longest of his career, traveling an estimated 459 feet.
The Angels probably won’t make the change Dempster hopes for, but that’s not likely to stop Ohtani from continuing to amaze us on the mound and at the plate.