How to bet Shohei Ohtani vs. Houston on Opening Day (April 7)

Astros vs. Angels Odds

Astros Odds -104
Angel odds -122
More less 8.5
Weather 9:38 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Keep up to date MLB odds here.

The Astros will travel to Los Angeles to start their season against the ever-imposing Shohei Ohtani and the Angels. To counter, Houston will launch Framber Valdez, who was last seen dropping grapple runs to the Atlanta Braves in last year’s World Series.

Are the Astros undervalued there or is there reason to like the Angels? Let’s take a closer look at this one.

Astros success rests on Valdez

I’ll get into the Astros offense in a moment, but I think this game starts and ends with Framber Valdez. No, I don’t think he will throw a full game. What I mean is that the result depends on the quality of his pitch in this one. If you couldn’t tell already, I don’t think it will be very good.

The southpaw certainly wasn’t bad last year. He threw a 3.14 ERA for Houston in his 27-year-old season and won 11 games. That said, none of its devices have confirmed that number. His FIP was an alarming 4.01 and his expected ERA was 3.81.

He again allowed an excessive amount of hard contacts, with 44.4% of all contacts registering over 95 mph from the start. His strikeout rate was also different from what we saw in 2020, dropping back to nearly 20%, and his walk rate soared into double digits, just as it did in the first two years of his career. .

So there’s certainly reason to be a little concerned about Valdez and predict that he might look more like the pitcher who gave up 10 earned runs in his last two playoff starts last year than the guy who launched a 3.14 ERA. I don’t like this Astros offense either.

Of course, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman will hit. They always do. What about Jose Altuve, who was better – but not his big self – in 2022? What about Michael Brantley, who is approaching 35? Is it fair to expect Jeremy Pena to replace Carlos Correa at bat? I see a lot of question marks in this range.

The angels have a tremendous offense

The Angels signed Anthony Rendon after his All-Star season in 2019 in hopes of securing an RBI machine and a bona fide MVP candidate to install in the middle of the order. What they got instead was a decent showing in a COVID-shortened season followed by a 58-game season in 2021 that was cut short due to injury. We know Rendon can punch – he’s done that his whole career – and for one game, he’ll be on the pitch anyway.

Rendon’s return makes this Angels attack all the more dangerous. They have a guy who finished in the top 11 in the MVP voting cleanup four times and two favorites for the award in 2022 batting and third, respectively.

Jo Adell, once a player you dreaded to watch, even looked good last year hitting .333 in September and October and posting a .703 OPS in the second half. There’s a lot that can go right for this LA line-up, and realistically it only takes two good performances per game to accentuate what the top four bring to the club.

Then there’s one of those MVP candidates – Shohei Ohtani. He’ll be the starter on Thursday, and while I expect him to thrive against an aging Astros roster, there are a few things we need to put in place.

He turned a gem against Houston in May of last year with 10 strikeouts before allowing six game-winning runs on 3 1/3 frames later in September. He also gets deserved credit for his ridiculous batting numbers, but allowed hard contact at nearly 40 percent last year. For the right-handed, this one will once again be a matter of missing bats and limiting gopher balls that have done so periodically.

Pick Astros-Angels

After laying out the doubts I have about Houston’s order and their leaving on Thursday, it’s no surprise that I’m all over the place here. Ohtani should stop this offense like he did last May, given that he no longer has to worry about Correa and will likely encounter worse versions of Altuve and Brantley.

Rendon’s .901 career OPS against lefties makes me all the more confident in an Angels offense that should boast seven right-handed hitters, and at least three who pack a real punch.

This could very well be the year of Los Angeles, and the year Houston retires as a powerhouse. It starts with an opening day win for the Halos.

To take: Angels (-122)

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