Astros vs Angels Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Sunday, July 16
Via Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 30, 2023 in Anaheim, California.
Astros vs. Angels Odds
The off-the-field Shohei Ohtani distractions will likely dominate the ESPN broadcast on Sunday night, but don't forget that this is a crucial AL West divisional matchup.
Given the underwhelming pitching matchup (Cristian Javier vs. Tyler Anderson), this should be a high-variance game.
And in high-variance spots, I prefer taking the 'dog.
The vibes surrounding the Astros aren't especially good. They're 19-19 since June 1, Michael Brantley hasn't played a game, and Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez are back on the IL.
It feels like a World Series hangover, and the Rangers' breakout season has only emphasized that.
Nonetheless, the Astros are 52-41, holding the third Wildcard spot in the brutal American League. They're only three games behind the Rangers for the division lead, and they have the league's fourth-best Run Differential.
Houston is in the thick of it, but do they have the horses to make a championship run?
There are some encouraging signs.
For example, Jose Abreu has woken up. I wrote an article detailing his struggles on June 5, and he's posted a much-improved .851 OPS since. The great black hole at first base in Houston has seemingly resolved itself.
His xwOBA was always slightly higher than his wOBA, so we probably should've expected positive regression.
Image credit: @JonPGH
Additionally, shoutout to Kyle Tucker and Corey Julks, who both have top-30 wRC+'s over the past month. Julks is amid a rookie breakout, mostly because he's walked (11) as much as he's struck out (11) during this recent stretch.
The Houston bullpen is usually a bright spot, and it's the same story this season. But it's worth mentioning these relievers have been used heavily over the past few days (more on that later).
Ultimately, the Astros need to get healthy. The injured ledger will decide their fate this season.
Starting Pitcher: Cristian Javier (RHP)
Cristian Javier was a breakout candidate in the preseason. Then came this:
Image credit: Brendan Tuma
Javier's fastball velocity is down. His fastball ride is down. His slider is breaking less. He's locating both pitches much worse.
The resulting collapse has been astonishing. He's allowed 18 earned runs over his past 10 2/3 innings, which has boosted his ERA and xERA into the mid-4.00s.
We should expect some modest positive regression for Javier, but I'm not confident in his abilities moving forward.
The Halos are close to blowing it up at the deadline. Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout are hurt, the bullpen is trash and there's not enough firepower in the rotation.
A lineup that can rake has been lost in this unfortunate season. The Halos are a top-five lineup by Average Exit Velocity, Hard-Hit Rate, Barrel Rate, xwOBA and wRC+.
Of course, it starts with Ohtani, who has smacked 33 homers this year. He's on pace to post career-highs in almost every Statcast metric, from Average Exit Velocity (93.8 mph) to xBA (.297) to xwOBA (.429).
Image credit: Baseball Savant
He's somehow getting better.
Unfortunately, the Angels don't have any depth, and whatever depth they had was blown up by injuries. Hunter Renfroe, Taylor Ward and Jo Adell have all been underwhelming.
It's always the same story in Anaheim.
The lone bright spot has been Mickey Moniak, the rookie with a 171 wRC+, but I don't see him sustaining any success with a 31% Strikeout Rate and a 2% Walk Rate.
Starting Pitcher: Tyler Anderson (LHP)
There's a limit to how successful a pitcher can be with a 20% Strikeout Rate. Anderson reached that limit last season (2.57 ERA over 178 innings) thanks to the Dodgers' stud coaching staff.
Anderson's changeup propelled him to career-best numbers in 2022, as the lefty used his offspeed stuff to suppress hard contact at elite rates (28.5% Hard-Hit Rate, .313 xwOBACON). He's thrown the pitch more in 2023, but the results have regressed to career norms.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
Anderson shouldn't carry an ERA north of 5.00 for the rest of the season — he's a mid-4.00s ERA guy — so I expect some positive regression in the future. Still, he's far from an elite pitcher.
Astros vs. Angels Betting Pick
I don't see much difference in the starting pitching matchup, especially with Javier struggling so mightily.
Both lineups are riddled with injuries and depth concerns. At 100%, I power rate the Halos bats slightly higher than the Astros, so I'll roll with that analysis.
These teams are also nearly identical by the base-running and defensive metrics.
The biggest difference between these two teams is in the bullpen, as the Astros' relievers are significantly more valuable than the Angels' bullpen.
However, as mentioned earlier, Houston's top relievers are not rested. Ryan Pressly, Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu and Phil Maton were all deployed on Friday and Saturday, while Ryne Stanek and Seth Martinez also saw innings in the first two games of the series.
Image credit: Rotowire
Considering bullpen usage, I'd make this Sunday Night Baseball game a coin flip.
So, the value is clearly with the Angels at plus-money odds. Give me the Halos at anything better than +110, and let's hope we can focus on a fun baseball game, instead of where Shohei will be playing later this season.