Shohei Ohtani is in line to return to the lineup on Saturday night when the Los Angeles Angels face the Cleveland Guardians in Anaheim, Calif.
Angels manager Phil Nevin said of Ohtani before Friday’s 6-3 setback to the Guardians that he was “just going to give him another day with a tough lefty (Logan Allen) on the mound.”
“Obviously, he’s our best (hitter) either way,” Nevin said. I just felt like if he feels good (Saturday), it would be the best day to get him back.”
That could be bad news for the Guardians‘ scheduled pitcher, right-hander Lucas Giolito. Ohtani, who has been out of the lineup for five games with oblique tightness, has given Giolito nightmares from the batter’s box in their head-to-head matchups.
Ohtani has three home runs and a .308 batting average in 26 at-bats against Giolito dating to 2018. Two of those homers were measured at 435 feet, both of them to deep center field — one in 2018, and the latest on May 30 in Chicago.
Ohtani had an opposite-field homer off Giolito on April 29, 2022.
Giolito (7-12, 4.88 ERA) is on his third team this season after being traded to the Angels on July 26.
From 2019-21, Giolito was one of the American League’s premier starting pitchers. He was 6-6 with a 3.79 ERA with the Chicago White Sox when he was traded.
But Giolito’s season has imploded since leaving the White Sox, with whom he spent seven seasons. Giolito made six starts for the Angels and was hit hard and often, going 1-5 with a 6.89 ERA with his new team.
On Aug. 29, the Angels waived Giolito and five other players in a salary dump to try to get under the 2023 luxury-tax threshold.
Giolito was one of three former Angels claimed by the Guardians on Aug. 31 in their bid to chase down the Minnesota Twins for the American League Central title.
Sadly for Giolito, he had his worst start of the season in his debut for Cleveland, getting hammered for three homers and nine runs in three innings on Monday in a 20-6 blowout loss to the Twins.
“It was kind of like a nightmare situation,” Giolito said after the game.
Left-hander Tyler Anderson (5-6, 5.55 ERA) will start for the Angels on Saturday. Anderson has made only one start against the Guardians, allowing three runs in six innings of a no-decision on May 12 in Cleveland.
The Guardians (68-74) are 6 1/2 games back in the AL Central, and manager Terry Francona says he likes what he sees from 23-year-olds Gabriel Arias and Bo Naylor as they receive regular playing time.
“With young guys, as their confidence grows, they start to do things that maybe they didn’t do before,” Francona told reporters.
The injury-plagued Angels (65-77), who have lost 10 of their past 12 games, started four rookies on Friday. One of those was Nolan Schanuel, who extended his franchise record of reaching base to 17 straight games since making his major-league debut.
But even Schanuel came out of Friday’s game in the ninth inning with a sore upper back.
“We’ll look at him (Saturday), but he’s OK,” Nevin said.
—Field Level Media