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Why is Shohei Ohtani not in starting lineup Thursday vs. Rangers?

The two-way superstar will get a breather in this series finale

Los Angeles Angels v Texas Rangers
Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts after getting caught in a double play on a ball hit by Taylor Ward #3 of the Los Angeles Angels in the top of the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on September 21, 2022 in Arlington, Texas.

Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani is getting a rest Thursday in the team’s series finale against the Texas Rangers. Mike Trout will take Ohtani’s spot as the designated hitter while Magneuris Sierra will fill in for Trout in center field.

If Ohtani doesn’t appear as a pinch-hitter later on, it will be just the second game he has missed since early August. He is scheduled to start on the mound Friday at Minnesota.

Ohtani’s overall production at the plate has taken a small step back this season; his OPS+ from his 2021 MVP campaign was 147 and is 139 this year. His offensive WAR, according to baseball-reference, has slipped from 4.9 to 3.6. Conversely, Ohtani has taken significant strides as a pitcher. He carries a 2.43 ERA with 196 strikeouts in 148 innings heading into his Friday start. His pitching WAR has increased from 4.1 last year to 5.3 this year.

Ohtani currently has +1800 odds to repeat as the AL MVP, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. He is a distant second to Yankees slugger Aaron Judge (-10000).