Cubs News: Joe Maddon makes inexcusable move with Shohei Ohtani
Former Cubs manager Joe Maddon may have cost Shohei Ohtani his 2020 season.
Woof. Talk about a bad look. In just his second start back from Tommy John surgery, Shohei Ohtani departed after a mere 1 2/3 innings of work against the Astros on Sunday. But prior to that, former Cubs and current Angels skipper Joe Maddon allowed the two-way star to throw a staggering 42 pitches and walk five batters.
In that second inning, Ohtani failed to crack 90 MPH with his fastball and looked out of sorts on the mound. He lost nearly 10 MPH on his heater from the first to second innings. Yet, he stayed on the mound. After the game, the right-hander underwent an MRI for what was labeled by the team as ‘right arm discomfort’. Here’s what Maddon had to say.
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"“I thought it was fatigue, from where I was standing,” Maddon said. “We were trying to get him out there as quickly as we could at that point. There was also the chance that he could get through it, and then I wasn’t certain if he’d be able to continue or not. It was one of those cusp situations. I thought he was just out of his delivery at that point.”"
Ohtani, who was horrendous in his return to the mound last week, now carries a 37.80 ERA in two starts this season. The 26-year-old hurler did not pitch last season as he recovered from Tommy John, but did DH for the Angels, putting together a .286/.343/.505 line – good for a 123 OPS+ across 425 plate appearances.
Of course, Maddon departed at the conclusion of his five-year run at the helm of the Cubs, during which the team won a pair of division crowns, advanced to three consecutive NLCS and won the franchise’s first World Series title in 108 years. Still, he didn’t come without criticism, especially later on in his tenure on the North Side – and a lot of them had to do with pitching and matchups.
That’s not to say he didn’t bring a lot to the Cubs. I mean, he completely changed what the organization stood for, the culture in the clubhouse and flipped the script on the Lovable Losers. But there were those times where he’d make a decision and instead of owning it, he’d dig in on his stance – and I worry this could be another one of those instances.
For a team like the Angels, the loss of Ohtani would be devastating. Owner Arte Moreno and GM Billy Eppler brought Maddon in this offseason and also came away winners in the Anthony Rendon sweepstakes, looking to end the team’s postseason drought. Despite boasting the game’s best player in Mike Trout, the Angels haven’t played October baseball since 2014.
With the Cubs sitting at 7-2, owners of the best league in the National League under first-year skipper David Ross, this is a moment where I think we can all come together and agree. Change was needed, Ross seems like the perfect guy for the job based on early results and the feedback from the players and it’s nice to not have to deal with these seemingly head-scratching decisions any longer.