Angels vs. Athletics Odds
|Time||Monday, 9:40 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings|
After getting destroyed by Seattle over the weekend, the Angels have to pick themselves up and fly to Oakland for a two-game set that starts on Monday night.
While it’s only mid-July, it’s going to be very tough to break into the American League playoff picture. The Red Sox, White Sox, Astros and Rays are all on pace to win 90+ games, and it doesn’t seem like there are too many teams that can reach that mark.
But, if you’re on the outside looking in, the A’s currently look the most vulnerable in the second wild-card spot. That makes this set potentially pivotal for the Angels, who enter 5 1/2 games back of Oakland and are on the verge of imploding.
So with Shohei Ohtani on the mound, which team has the edge in the opener?
Halos Hanging On Without Trout
All-Star weekend was an excellent couple of days for Angels fans, as the baseball world swooned over their two-way superstar and momentarily forgot about how pathetic the team actually is. However, everyone was quickly reminded, as the Halos dropped two of three to the red-hot Mariners coming out of the gates.
We should probably take it a little easier on the Angels. With both Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon injured, the Halos shouldn’t be expected to compete with the upper echelon of teams.
But the Angels’ issues don’t revolve around their lineup, which has posted the fourth-best wRC+ (117) and the third-best OPS (.794) since Trout’s injury. Ohtani leads the league in home runs (34) while David Fletcher just ripped off a 26-game hit streak, during which he batted .454 and raised his average from .255 to .317.
Instead, the pitching staff is horrendous, and the front office should be ashamed of this group of arms they’ve put together.
Outside of Ohtani, who’s pitched excellently this season, the other four main rotation pieces has been below average at best:
- Andrew Heaney: 5.56 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .316 xwOBA
- Alex Cobb: 3.96 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .294 xwOBA
- Dylan Bundy: 6.78 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .338 xwOBA
- José Quintana: 6.97 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, .337 xwOBA
Combine that with a lack of bullpen depth — everyone outside of Raisel Iglesias and Steve Cishek are unreliable — and you have the recipe for a mediocre season, regardless of how good the lineup can be.
Of gambling importance: Combine their lineup success and pitching incompetence, the Angels are the second most-profitable over team this season, as they’re 57-36 to the over this season.
Starting Pitcher: Shohei Ohtani (RHP)
Ohtani has been brilliant this season. While his four-seam touches 100 mph, it’s his splitter that really fools and overpowers hitters:
Shohei Ohtani's splitter is ELITE.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) June 17, 2021
However, his blowup on June 30 against the Yankees was quite unexpected. Ohtani managed to record just two outs after allowing seven runs on two hits and four walks. He bounced back against the Red Sox next outing, going seven strong while allowing just two runs to go into the All-Star break on a high note.
That outing against the Yankees does point out the biggest issue with Ohtani this season: his control. Ohtani is walking an absurd 4.7 batters per nine, which ranks among the bottom 14% of qualified starters.
While the splitter often makes hitters look stupid, Ohtani doesn’t get guys to chase much on average. His 22.4% chase rate ranks in just the fifth percentile of qualified starters.
However, if he continues to strike out close to 12 batters per nine innings while keeping his ground ball rate high (46.7%) and home run rate low (0.81 HR/9), he might be able to get away with it.
The A’s always find ways to hang around.
Oakland is league-average in absolutely every category — offensively, defensively and on the mound, both in the rotation and bullpen — except for winning games.
Oakland is 11 games above .500 while posting a plus-30 run differential, 28-24 home record and 25-18 road record.
But, as mentioned, the A’s have a target on their back. For teams like Toronto, Seattle and Cleveland, catching Oakland for the second wild-card spot is the most realistic path to the postseason.
And the A’s might be vulnerable right now. Oakland is just 5-8 this month because of a bottom-10 offense (.673 OPS, 24th in MLB; 88 wRC+, 26th in MLB) and a starting rotation that has been downright average (3.95 FIP, 14th in MLB) during that stretch.
Additionally, while Oakland has posted a solid home winning record, it has also allowed more runs at home than they’ve scored (213 home runs, 224 home runs allowed). The A’s are going to have to be formidable at home down the stretch if they want to hang onto that 2 1/2 game it has in the wild-card race.
I can’t say I’m very bullish on the A’s chances in the second half, but this team has proved me wrong many, many times before.
Starting Pitcher: Cole Irvin (LHP)
At this point, Cole Irvin is an enigma to me. He doesn’t miss bats (20.7% whiff, 12th percentile) or strike anyone out (6.63 K/9) but has somehow been effective at pitching to contact despite allowing an average exit velocity over 90 mph.
I continue to expect regression from Irvin, as his 90 mph fastball, which he throws almost half the time, is conceding a lot of hard contact while his expected slugging on the pitch (.350) is almost 60 points higher than his actual (.292).
However, it continues to not happen. The last time I faded Irvin, he struck out eight over eight scoreless innings against the Giants.
Over the past two starts, however, Irvin has allowed five earned on eight hits over 12 innings. Not a bad mark, but slightly more in line with what we should expect from the southpaw.
I want to fade Irvin every chance I get, but simply refuse to until I understand what is happening.
Oakland’s weekend series against Cleveland doesn’t install much confidence in me.
In fact, I have very little confidence in every aspect of the Athletics in this matchup. The A’s have been losing games, the offense has been lackluster, I’m skeptical of Irvin and the bullpen has been one of the worst in the league recently (5.21 FIP over the last 30 days).
The Angels are a tough team to bet on, and I’d imagine they’re the furthest thing from profitable as a road favorite this season. But in this spot, I feel much more comfortable backing Ohtani and the Angels offense than Irvin and the A’s.
I bet the Angels at -120 on DraftKings on Sunday night. If the line creeps anywhere past that, however, I’m staying away.
Pick: Angels -120