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Marlins face multi-talented Shohei Ohtani in series finale

Los Angeles Angels v Miami Marlins

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 05: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on from the on deck circle during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on July 05, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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The host Miami Marlins saw what it was like facing Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani as a designated hitter in their interleague game on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, they face Ohtani the pitcher.

The clubs conclude their two-game series on Wednesday with Ohtani (7-4, 2.68 ERA) getting the start against Marlins left-hander Trevor Rogers (4-6, 5.56).

This series marks the first time in his career that Ohtani is playing in Miami.

In the Marlins’ 2-1 win on Tuesday, Ohtani finished hitless in three at-bats, with a walk.

“I can follow him around all day and watch him all day,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “Here, you get a DH day and you get to see him pitch (Wednesday), so you get to see all of him.”

For the Marlins, they’ll experience Ohtani’s complete skillset. The ability to hit and pitch at high levels sets him apart from other players.

“He’s an exciting guy,” Nevin said. “He’s even more exciting to be able to have him in your own room. Just to watch him work every day, for me, is the most impressive thing.”

Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who won the American League Most Valuable Player award in 1985, an honor Ohtani received last year, marvels at the way Ohtani can handle the grind of pitching and hitting.

“Just the wear and tear on the body, it just takes a lot mentally to do it,” Mattingly said.

On the mound, Ohtani is an imposing presence. The right-handed pitcher has 101 strikeouts and 17 walks in 74 innings. That’s a nine-inning average of 12.28 strikeouts and 2.07 walks.

“Not only just (to pitch and hit), but to do it really well,” Mattingly said. “You can look at him as a Cy Young-type guy, and you can also look at him as an MVP. That’s both sides of this thing. That’s pretty amazing.”

For the Marlins, Rogers is trying to get his season on track. The National League Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2021, Rogers is 2-2 with a 6.56 ERA in his past seven starts.

The southpaw, who has never faced Angels, has yet to display the consistency that he showed last year.

Rogers’ strikeout numbers are down and his walks are up from a year ago. In 2021, he averaged 10.62 strikeouts and 3.11 walks per game, but those figures are 8.21 strikeouts and 4.50 walks this year.

The first batter Rogers faces on Wednesday might be Angels third baseman Jonathan Villar, who spent a half-season with the Marlins in 2020. Villar was released by the Chicago Cubs in late June, then signed with Los Angeles over the weekend. The Angels are trying him out in the leadoff spot, but he is 0-for-7 through two games.

“We’re going to see how it looks,” Nevin said. “His best years came with him out of the leadoff spot ... I think he can be a spark.”

The Angels have lost four straight games and seven of their last 10. The Marlins, meanwhile, are winners of six straight.

“It feels at least some things are bouncing our way,” Mattingly said. “When you hit these little streaks, it feels like the ball is bouncing our way. We’re doing some things that are working out.

“We’ve had our stretches through the season when it hasn’t. Right now, the last few days, it has been. Now, you ride the wave as long as you can.”