MLB Lines Predictions & Analysis Game Astros vs Angels Shohei Ohtani On Mound

MLB: Lines Predictions & Analysis Game Astros vs Angels | Shohei Ohtani On Mound

Angels dual-threat star Shohei Ohtani had a historic 2021 season in winning American League MVP honors and he takes the mound – and will bat as normal – on Thursday night as LA hosts Houston in the season opener for both. The Angels are short favorites on the MLB odds.

How to Bet Houston at LA Angels MLB Odds & TV Info

Why Bet on Houston?

The last time we saw the Astros in a game that counted, they lost Game 6 of the World Series at home to Atlanta 7-0, on Nov. 2 to be eliminated. That would prove to be the final game in the Astros career of All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa, who signed in free agency with the Twins. The team is counting on rookie Jeremy Pena to replace him.

The shortstop played college baseball at Maine, where he was selected by the Astros in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft. Last season, Pena played 37 games in the minors, where he hit .297/.363/.579 while recording 10 home runs, 21 RBI, 25 runs scored and 43 hits. He is considered the No. 1 prospect in the organization.

Earlier this week, the Astros signed stellar reliever Ryan Pressly to a two-year, $30 million contract extension with a vesting option for 2025. Pressly vested a $10 million option for 2022 back in September 2021 while working to a 2.25 ERA and 81/13 K/BB ratio across 64 total regular-season innings for the Astros. This new deal — the richest ever for a Houston reliever — will kick in come 2023. The right-hander has tallied 38 saves over the last two years and remains the locked-in stopper for manager Dusty Baker.

It’s lefty Framber Valdez on the mound. In 2021, Valdez had the best season of his four-year career despite missing the first 49 games of the season due to a fractured finger. He returned to make 22 starts from May 28 thru the end of the season, a time frame in which he ranked tied for first in the AL in wins (11), while ranking third in innings pitched (134.2) and fourth in ERA (3.14). Valdez also posted the highest ground ball percentage (70.3%) in the Majors by a wide margin and ranked third in the AL in home runs per 9.0 ratio (0.80) (min. 130 IP).

Valdez started two games in the 2021 World Series against the Braves, giving up 10 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in losses in Games 1 and 5. This will be his first Opening Day assignment.

“This guy’s been a big-game pitcher and I don’t think this assignment is going to overwhelm him,” Baker said. “He can handle the World Series and all the other stuff. This is nothing.”

Why Bet on LA Angels?

The 2021 Angels completed their 61st MLB campaign with an 77-85 (.475) mark, in fourth place in the A.L. West (-18.0). They finished under .500 for a sixth consecutive season. The Angels went 67-0 when leading after eight innings in 2021 (only other unbeaten team was Cubs: 57-0).

The Angels lost three-time AL MVP Mike Trout to a calf injury on May 17, 2021, and he wouldn’t return the entire season but is healthy now and forms a potent trio in the lineup with reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani and third baseman Anthony Rendon, who also missed much of last season. At the time of his injury, Trout was in the midst of one of the greatest starts to a season in baseball history, putting up a 190 wRC+ as well as 2.3 fWAR in only 36 games. He was on pace for the best season of his already Hall of Fame career. Trout has been battling a bit of an illness this week but should be in the lineup.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said Saturday that he wants to get each of Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh and Taylor Ward 450 to 500 at-bats this season. Adell is penciled into a starting role in right field for the Angels, with Marsh expected to be the team’s starter in left. Ward is also expected to see plenty of time in the outfield. Adell is the team’s top prospect.

Ohtani had one of the best seasons in MLB history in 2021 when combining his work at the plate and as a starting pitcher and he’s on the mound here. There’s a new rule basically tailored to him. Now, all teams can list a player as the pitcher and designated hitter on the days he starts, then remove him in one role but not the other.

Ohtani hit .257 with a .965 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 46 homers, 100 RBIs, 103 runs and 26 stolen bases and went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts on the mound last season. He hit as the pitcher in 20 of those starts, but when he exited the game as a pitcher, per National League rules, he had to either come out of the game or move to right field to remain in the game for one more at-bat, which he did seven times.

Thursday’s start on the mound will mark Ohtani’s first Opening Day nod as a pitcher in the Majors and the eighth straight season the Angels have a different Opening Day starting pitcher.

Game Trends

  • Astros are 2-5 in their last 7 vs. American League West.
  • Astros are 2-6 in their last 8 games as an underdog.
  • Astros are 1-5 in their last 6 road games vs. a right-handed starter.
  • Angels are 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter.
  • Angels are 2-10 in their last 12 home games.
  • Angels are 1-6 in their last 7 during game 1 of a series.
  • Astros are 6-2 in the last 8 meetings in Los Angeles.

Expert Prediction

  • Angels 4, Astros 3

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