Blue Jays vs. Angels Odds, Preview, Prediction: Shohei Ohtani Faces Difficult Matchup (Thursday, August 12)

Blue Jays vs. Angels Odds, Preview, Prediction: Shohei Ohtani Faces Difficult Matchup (Thursday, August 12) article feature image
Credit:

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images. Pictured: Jose Berrios.

  • Jose Berrios and the Toronto Blue Jays take on Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
  • With two strong pitchers taking the mound, how does a bettor find value.
  • Michael Arinze explains below and shares his top pick and prediction for the game.

Blue Jays vs. Angels Odds

Blue Jays Odds -135
Angels Odds +115
Over/Under 8.5 (-115 / -105)
Time 9:38 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via DraftKings.

The Blue Jays have a chance to win their fourth straight series when they take on the Angels on the road in Anaheim.

The series began with a doubleheader that both teams split, but Toronto was the more convincing side in a 10-2 victory on Wednesday night.

In the series finale, Toronto’s José Berríos will face off against Shohei Ohtani for Los Angeles. While both pitchers have shown solid form of late, I have some concerns about the Angels’ right-hander when he faces upper-echelon teams in the league.

Let’s do a deep dive into this matchup and see if my concerns are justified enough to fade Ohtani in this spot.

Berríos Performing for Blue Jays

While Berríos has said all the right things since the Blue Jays acquired him, it also helps to perform on the field. Toronto’s playoff aspirations have rubbed off on him and renewed his vigor to compete.

Berríos admittedly said he wanted to impress his new team since arriving to validate the organization’s decision to trade for him. In two outings, he’s done just that with back-to-back quality starts and one earned run in his last 12 innings of work. In fact, his last appearance with Minnesota was against Los Angeles, resulting in another quality start (7 IP, 2 ER).

Overall, Berríos is 8-5 with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. His 3.54 FIP does point to a slight regression, but the disparity isn’t high enough to register as a cause for concern.

If I’m picky, Berríos’ home runs allowed would probably be my biggest worry. While he has a 1.01 HR/9 ratio, his HR/FB rate is at 12.9%.

To his credit, he’s never really been a groundball pitcher, as evidenced by his career 1.10 GB/FB ratio. However, that number is up to 1.32 GB/FB this season, an 18% improvement.

Berríos does have some experience against the Angels, as he’s 2-3 in five starts with a 4.66 ERA. Yet, those numbers might be a bit misleading given that this current lineup has a .150 / .190 / .267 line against him in 60 at-bats.

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Can Toronto Hit Ohtani Around?

If we acknowledge that Berríos is in a groove, then Ohtani must be pitching from a rocking chair.

The Angels right-hander has registered a quality start in six of his last seven outings and nine of his last 12. This season, he’s compiled a 6-1 record with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.

Like Berríos, Ohtani’s 3.27 FIP also points to some regression, but the difference isn’t sufficient enough to warrant any major warning signs.

One area of his game he’s working to improve is his command. While he has a 3.77 B/9 ratio for the season, he’s actually allowed only one walk in his last 26 innings of work. This change has clearly been by design, as Ohtani revealed in a meeting with the media that he’s trying to pitch more around the strike zone. He also conceded that the change in his approach has resulted in more hits allowed.

The Blue Jays rank 23rd with an 8% walk rate, so they’re clearly more of a free-swinging team. Thus, throwing more pitches in the strike zone could actually work to their advantage.

Ohtani has been even less of a groundball pitcher than Berríos, given his 1.19 GB/FB ratio. Opposing hitters have a 41% hard-hit rate against him vs. 37.1% for Berríos, according to Statcast.

In fact, FanGraphs Pitch Info rates his fastball, which he throws 50.3% of the time, to be 0.9 runs below average. Opposing hitters have a .420 SLG percentage against the pitch with a .367 xWOBA. The frequency with which he throws it could be problematic against a Blue Jays team ranked ninth with a value of 19.8 runs above average when facing the fastball.

While this will be Ohtani’s first time facing the Blue Jays, he does have some history against two of their hitters in George Springer and Marcus Semien. It’s only a small sample size of 13 at-bats, but they have a combined .462 / .500 / .692 line against him with a .231 ISO.

Springer could be particularly dangerous, as he’s thrived in the leadoff spot for Toronto this season.

Blue Jays-Angels Pick

As a two-way player, opposing teams have to be worried about Ohtani when he steps in the batter’s box. However, he’s managed only two hits in his last 17 at-bats.

In fact, Los Angeles is 1-4 in the last five games he’s registered an at-bat. His importance in the lineup can’t be overstated.

Perhaps what I’d most like to highlight about Ohtani is that the Angels aren’t necessarily automatic with him on the mound against winning teams.

This season, the Angels are 2-6 in his starts for a loss of 3.96 units when facing a team with at least a .510 win percentage. That number drops to 1-4 against teams with at least a .520 win percentage.

While it doesn’t necessarily mean that Ohtani has pitched all that poorly, I think you’d have to be a bit concerned with the Angels’ relievers in the later innings. Los Angeles’ bullpen is ranked 24th with a 4.71 ERA, whereas the Blue Jays are 12th with a 3.96 ERA.

My model makes the Blue Jays a -141 favorite in this matchup, so I have a bit of an edge at -130.

Pick: Blue Jays (-130)

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