Japanese 2-way phenom Shohei Ohtani is already one of the most exciting players in baseball

  • Shohei Ohtani made his first major-league start Sunday for the Los Angeles Angels, throwing an impressive six innings against the Oakland Athletics in a 7-4 win.
  • Ohtani’s MLB debut was one of the most anticipated in recent memory, as he was known for his abilities as both a hitter and a pitcher in Japan.
  • Striking out six batters and showing off a 100-mph fastball and perfectly placed slider and splitter, Ohtani could not have done much better in his first start.

Shohei Ohtani had his first major league start Sunday and quickly proved himself to be one of the most intriguing players in baseball.

Dogged by questions after a somewhat shaky spring training, Ohtani went for six innings against the Oakland Athletics, with six strikeouts and just one walk. While he gave up three earned runs, they all came courtesy of a Matt Chapman home run in the second inning. Ohtani quickly recovered from the misstep, putting down 14 of the next 15 batters he faced while helping the Angels secure a 7-4 win.

In one particularly impressive sequence, Ohtani struck out Matt Olson in three pitches – hitting triple digits with his fastball and then leaving him guessing with off-speed pitches to follow.

Ohtani has been one of the most compelling characters in baseball since the bidding war to land him began this offseason. Ohtani, 23, made a name for himself as both a hitter and a pitcher in Japan and has already served as the Angels’ designated hitter, making him the first player to start as both a pitcher and DH in the same season since Rick Rhoden in 1988, according to the statistician Ryan Spaeder.

While he’s had just one hit in his five plate appearances so far for the Angels, he hasn’t been overwhelmed by MLB pitching, having already played professionally in Japan for five years. Still, it’s his pitching that has Angels fans dreaming about their team’s newfound potential – showing off a 100-mph fastball to go along with a slider and a splitter that he controls with excellent placement.

It’s too early to tell what will become of Ohtani’s career in the majors, but it’s tough to imagine a stronger first start for the young player.