Ohtani's fastball reached 100 mph in his bullpen session Saturday, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reports. Ohtani topped out at 90 mph during his first bullpen session, which was either the sign of yet more arm troubles for the two-way sensation or simply the sign of a pitcher gradually getting up to speed to start camp. Thankfully, recent bullpen sessions have shown that it was clearly the latter, as he's now throwing significantly harder. Ohtani's fastball averaged 96.7 mph during his rookie season back in 2018 before he was shut down from pitching due to elbow troubles, and it looks as though he could sit in that range again this year.
Ohtani said his fastball reached 97 mph during Wednesday's live batting practice session, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. There was some pessimism about Ohtani's pitching outlook after he topped out at just 90 mph during a bullpen session last Thursday, but the right-hander proved that those concerns were overblown during his time on the mound Wednesday. Notably, Ohtani hit 97 mph only once during his brief stint as a pitcher last season. The 26-year-old indicated that his elbow feels "much better" compared to 2020, and he could be poised for a bounceback as a hurler if he's able to keep healthy throughout the campaign.
Ohtani worked with Driveline Baseball over the offseason as part of a plan to get back to his desired level on the mound, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reports. The two-way phenom has yet to fully deliver on his considerable promise, with Tommy John surgery limiting him to just 12 starts over his first three MLB seasons, including two disastrous outings after he got back on the mound last year. It's not clear exactly what he worked on at Driveline, though he was seen using the company's trademark weighted ball workouts in camp. There's no guarantee that working with Driveline will instantly vault Ohtani into a new tier as a pitcher, but the trip provides one explanation should he showcase a new skill set early in the season. Early reports from camp have been mostly negative, as he topped out at just 90 mph in his first bullpen session, but he didn't seem concerned with his velocity. Fantasy drafters may not share his optimism given his history, but there's every chance his velocity rebounds as his spring buildup continues.
Ohtani threw a 27-pitch bullpen session Thursday, topping out at 90 mph, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. The velocity is well below his career average of 93.2 mph, but it's probably far too early to be worried. Pitchers don't always throw at full intensity right at the start of camp, and Ohtani had reportedly touched 95 mph in recent sessions. Still, given the rocky nature of Ohtani's MLB pitching career thus far, it doesn't take much for the red flags to start to fly. After not pitching at all in 2019 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, he was shut down following a pair of awful outings last year. Those looking to invest in him in fantasy drafts would certainly love to see his velocity return to normal before doing so.
Angels manager Joe Maddon confirmed Tuesday that Ohtani will be a "full go" for spring training and head into the 2021 season as a two-way player, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reports. There was little reason to believe Ohtani wouldn't be a two-way player this season, but it's still good to see some confirmation from the team after he was shut down from pitching following two disastrous starts last year. Despite his considerable hype, Ohtani has now spent three full seasons in the majors and has yet to be a full-time two-way player for the entirety of any of those campaigns. Elbow issues ended his time on the mound just 10 starts into his debut season and eventually led to Tommy John surgery, which kept him as purely a designated hitter in 2019. His awful outings on the mound in 2020 can be explained away by his recovery from that procedure, but it's still hard to have complete confidence that things will finally go well for him in his fourth MLB season.