When it comes to the battle for baseball supremacy in Los Angeles, the Angels clearly have the edge by a wide margin to start the year.
Thanks to the excitement surrounding Shohei Ohtani, the Halos’ starter today, and a deep lineup, the Angels have started 13-3 on the young season. They could prove to be a real thorn in the Astros’ side in the AL West.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, now sit 6.5 games back of the Diamondbacks heading into this afternoon’s tilt. Still very early, sure, but falling behind any further could put the Snakes in the driver’s seat in the NL West.
And finally, this week’s edition of Sunday Night Baseball features two completely different pitchers, both of whom have previously won a Cy Young, as the Texas Rangers trot out Bartolo Colon against Houston’s Justin Verlander.
Los Angeles Angels (-205) @ Kansas City Royals (+183) | O/U: 8
Shohei Ohtani (2-0, 2.08) vs. Eric Skoglund (0-1, 9.64 ERA)
2:15 p.m. ET
Shoh-Time: Ohtani became the first pitcher in the past 20 years to go 7+ shutout innings with at least 12 strikeouts in one of his first two career starts. Oh, and did I also mention that Ohtani leads all of baseball with a .767 slugging percentage (minimum 30 ABs). How good is a .767 slugging percentage? Only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds have ever finished a season with a slugging percentage higher than .767. Speaking of Ruth, Ohtani became the first player since the Babe in 1921 to record a win as a pitcher and then homer in his next game as a nonpitcher. — Stuckey
Ohtani’s start at both ends of the ball has been electric, but let’s see if we can punch some holes in his pitching stats. Through two starts, Ohtani has posted a sparkling 2.08 ERA and 0.46 WHIP across 13 innings of work. Those numbers actually understate how well he has pitched when you take a look under the hood. The 23-year-old’s 1.87 xFIP (a regressed version of Fielding Independent Pitching), 12.46 strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) and 9.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio all suggest Ohtani’s head-turning performance thus far is no fluke. — Michael Leboff
Overmatched: As the odds suggest, Ohtani will have a plus-matchup Sunday. The Royals have struggled mightily on offense to start the year, ranking in the bottom five in three offensive catch-all statistics: wOBA (weighted on-base average), wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) and OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage).
The B-Side: All eyes will once again be on Ohtani, but let’s spend some time getting to know Eric Skoglund. The 25-year-old was a third-round pick in 2014 and has logged just 22.2 innings in the majors over his career. His numbers in those starts aren’t pretty, but that’s because he’s been uncharacteristically wild in his six MLB outings. If Skoglund has his command with him against the Halos, his numbers will improve, and this could end up being a bit of a pitchers’ duel. — Michael Leboff