MLB Betting Notes: The Shohei Must Go On
It wasn’t all roses and butterflies for Japanese talisman Shohei Ohtani in his last start, as he lasted just two innings and allowed three runs on four hits in a hype-derailing start against the Red Sox.
So far we’ve seen one decent start, one mesmerizing start and one bad start out of the two-way star. Which version of Ohtani will we get tonight against the defending champions?
It’s Shohei time.
Los Angeles Angels (+135) @ Houston Astros (-145) | O/U: 8.5
Shohei Ohtani (2-1, 3.60 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (3-0, 0.72 ERA)
8:10 p.m. ET
Eat at Morton’s: Anybody holding a Charlie Morton for Cy Young ticket? The Astros right-hander was 200-1 to win the award heading into the season, but with the way he’s rolling right now, he could make somebody out there very happy. Through his first 25 innings (four starts), Morton owns a 0.72 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and .176 batting average against. The natural thing would be to assume there’s a lot of good fortune involved, but that really isn’t the case.
Heading into tonight’s start, Morton’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .250, which should tick up a bit. His xFIP (a regressed version of fielding independent pitching) is 2.33, which suggests his sub-1.00 ERA isn’t long for this world. Even so, a 2.33 xFIP is damn good.
Morton’s seemingly out of nowhere success with the Astros has a lot to do with his velocity, which ticked up to 96 mph last year — his first with Houston — and is now sitting at 96.6. Basically what I’m trying to say is, Charlie Morton is good at baseball now. — Michael Leboff
Charlie vs. the Angels: The Halos’ offense is off to a great start and is the main reason they look like they could challenge the Astros in the AL West. Mike Scioscia’s club ranks first in home runs, fifth in runs scored and sixth in the MLB in wOBA (weighted on-base average) and wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) despite having a .289 BABIP, which is in the bottom half of the league.
Morton’s absurdly high strikeout rate will be put to the test against the Halos. The artists formerly known as the Anaheim Angels rank second (entering play Monday) in the league with a strikeout rate of 18.5%. — Michael Leboff
Great Late: As the game progresses, Ohtani just gets better. Ohtani has allowed just one hit in the third inning or later (and that hit by Marcus Semien broke up Ohtani’s perfect game in the seventh inning). Entering Monday, 127 starting pitchers have thrown at least nine innings in the third inning or later, and Ohtani is the only one to allow fewer than five hits this season (11 K’s and two BB’s)! — Evan Abrams
Charles In Charge: Over the last two seasons, Morton is 13-6 on the moneyline at home for +2.1 units, winning by over 2.5 runs per game. In that span, Morton is actually the most profitable Astros starter at home, with Houston -3.6 units at home. — Evan Abrams
All data provided by FanGraphs and MLB.com
Top Photo: Los Angeles Angels designated hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani. Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports