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Shohei Ohtani made his first MLB start (and it was good)

Monday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at Shohei Ohtani’s first start that counts.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani did not have a good spring training. He struggled on the mound whenever he wasn’t striking out batters, with the spring mostly acting as an adjustment period for the different, slicker baseballs of Major League Baseball compared to Ohtani’s previous league, Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan.

His first start that actually counts came on Sunday, and this was one was good. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad: it was good. Ohtani logged a Quality Start, giving up three runs over six innings while striking out six. He allowed one walk and one homer to the Oakland A’s, which, after a spring that saw him do much worse than that, was a comfort. A small one, but, hey, the timing is right.

Ohtani could very well be a serious starter for the Angels in 2018, but it’s worth remembering that this is a transition year for him. On top of having to be a lineup regular and be a starter, Ohtani is also playing in his first season in MLB, his first season with these teammates, in this city, with these baseballs, and these opponents. If there’s an adjustment period in his performance, no one should be surprised. But that’s exactly what makes him not falling on his face in his first start of the year feel promising.

There will be other starts for Ohtani, and they could be great, they could be bad, or they could be good. Each time they aren’t bad, though, especially early on, it’s going to feel like a victory whether the Angels actually pick up the W or not.

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