Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani has been turning heads in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. He has been dominant on the mound and at the plate just as he has during his major league tenure. Ohtani has commented that he loves playing in these meaningful tournament games and plans to pull double duty on Tuesday night in the Championship against Team USA.
Ohtani pitched five days ago in the quarterfinals against Italy. He threw 71 pitches and could’ve gotten the starting nod if the championship was on Wednesday. Instead, Team Japan will start southpaw Shota Imanaga. The current plan is for San Diego Padres starter Yu Darvish to be first out of the pen, with Ohtani coming in after. There is a chance for a marquee matchup as Ohtani could come in late-game and face his Angels teammate Mike Trout.
Ohtani hasn’t come out of the bullpen in a game since 2016. He was still in the NPB at that point and playing for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. The 22-year-old was starting to take the main stage in the baseball world and unleashed two 102.5 mph fastballs in a clean inning of relief.
Team Japan advanced to the championship game with a walk-off victory against Mexico. Ohtani led off the inning with a double. New Boston Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida then drew a walk. NPB home run champ Munetaka Murakami lined a ball off the fence, scoring both Ohtani and Yoshida.
Team Japan will face Team USA at LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida on Tuesday, March 21. First pitch set for 7 p.m. ET and the game will air on FS1.