Ohtani Shohei (LA Angels) will pitch as a closer in the Korean War?
The possibility of Ohtani being appointed as a closer to the Japanese national team, which confirmed the final list of 30 players for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) to be held in March, has been raised. Japan national team coach Hideki Kuriyama said at a press conference after the WBC kick-off ceremony held in Kuriyama-cho, Hokkaido on the 27th, about the possibility of Ohtani’s appointment as a finisher, “I don’t know how the final decision will be made, but I think I left all possibilities open. Zero (0%) is not,” he replied.
Japan filled 15 of the 30 finalists with pitchers. However, there are five professional bullpen agents: Atsuki Yuasa (Hanshin Tigers), Daisei Ota (Yomiuri Giants), Ryoji Kuribayashi (Hiroshima Carp), Yuki Matsui (Rakuten Golden Eagles), and Yuki Udagawa (Oris Buffaloes). only Daily Sports, a Japanese sports magazine, pointed out that there may be cases where they are not allowed to stand on the mound due to competition rules with restrictions on the number of pitches and appearances.
Coach Kuriyama premised that “the method of pitching after the starting pitcher will be flexible,” and then revealed the blueprint, saying, “If the mound shows even the slightest oddity, we have to work on changing it.” Regarding the possibility of using Ohtani, who is classified as a starting resource, as well as Yu Darvish (San Diego Padres) and Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix) as closers, he left room by saying, “There is no possibility zero.” 메이저놀이터
In this WBC, the so-called ‘Otani Rule’ is applied, in which the starting pitcher and hitter can remain as the designated hitter and continue to play even if the pitcher and hitter are strong on the mound. Ohtani, who is both a pitcher and hitter for the Angels, was registered as a pitcher for the Japanese national team. Initially, it was expected that he would focus on the designated hitter role rather than a pitcher in that his shoulder could be strained due to his early start-up.
Ohtani made two starts against Korea in the 2015 Premier 12, when he was in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), and recorded 3 hits and 21 strikeouts in 13 innings. In the semifinals of the tournament, Korea won a dramatic come-from-behind victory after Ohtani went down the mound, eventually winning the championship, but was completely defeated by Ohtani. It is unknown whether Ohtani will show the same power as at the time due to the nature of the bullpen, where he has to pour all his strength into one inning compared to the long-breathed starter, but it is true that Lee Kang-cheol has no choice but to recall the nightmare of the time.