Does Shohei Ohtani hit when he pitches? Explaining World Baseball Classic lineup rules
Shohei Ohtani took Japan one win away from a World Baseball Classic Championship.
The Angels’ two-way star started a ninth-inning rally Monday night to lead Japan to a comeback win over Mexico and secure a date with Team USA on Tuesday. Japan has not won the World Baseball Classic since 2009, when Daisuke Matsuzaka was the tournament’s MVP.
Japan has had great input from other players, including Masataka Yoshida, the latest Red Sox signing, but having a player who can hit and throw as well as Ohtani is a game changer.
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USA will see plenty of Ohtani on Tuesday night, but will he be able to both score and pitch?
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World Baseball Classic rules allow Ohtani to bat and pitch in the same game.
Ohtani was able to serve as the starting pitcher when Japan faced Italy in the quarterfinals and remain in the game as the designated batsman after being waived. He conceded two earned runs against Italy and contributed as a hitter with a single, a walk and two runs scored.
The World Baseball Classic has strict restrictions on the use of pitchers, so it is vital for Japan that Ohtani is able to remain on the lineup as a DH after being removed as a pitcher.
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Manager Hideki Kuriyama made it clear in December that Ohtani would pitch and bat for as long as the rules allowed, and he kept that promise.
Ohtani could serve briefly as an assist against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic Finals, but his place in the lineup will not be affected regardless of what Kuriyama decides on the mound.
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Shohei Ohtani World Baseball Classic stats
Ohtani was the dominant batsman for Japan in the World Baseball Classic up to that point. The former AL MVP hits .450 with one home run, eight RBI and 1,421 OPS in six games. He has run nine times and has a higher on-base percentage than any other player who has appeared in more than four games.
On the mound, Ohtani has a 2.08 ERA over 8.2 innings. He axed 10 batters and only walked one. Ohtani is also one of five pitchers with two wins in the tournament.
World Baseball Classic limits will limit Ohtani to a relieved appearance in the title game against USA, but even just an inning or two of such an electric presence could mean the difference for Japan.