- Shohei Ohtani has lived up to the hype on the mound to start the season, showcasing his filthy strikeout stuff in each of his eight starts.
- While Ian Kennedy hasn’t pitched well this season, he has been one of the unluckiest pitchers in the bigs.
- Let’s preview the Kennedy-Ohtani matchup from both a betting and fantasy perspective.
Shohei Ohtani has thrived on the mound this season. And while his overall numbers look very strong, he pitched even better last month. After finishing the month of April with a 4.43 ERA, he went 2-0 in May with a spectacular 2.16 ERA. He went at least five innings in each of his four starts last month and didn’t allow more than two earned runs in any.
Let’s take a look at if he can carry over his success into June against the Royals, whom the Angels have defeated in each of their five meetings this season.
Kansas City Royals (+230) at Los Angeles Angels (-260) | O/U: 8
Ian Kennedy (1-6, 6.08 ERA) vs. Shohei Ohtani (4-1, 3.18 ERA)
10:07 p.m. ET
Shohei Ohtani: The Angels’ highly touted two-way player has pitched very well to start the year. He has compiled a 3.18 ERA, which accurately captures his performance, as he has an almost identical FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 3.22. His 11.32 K/9 ranks ninth among all starters with a minimum of 40 innings pitched. He does own a top-50 walk rate at 3.38/9, but that isn’t the worst metric considering how many strikeouts he’s getting.
You simply can’t question his stuff. He has averaged better than 96.9 mph on his fastball, which he has thrown more than 45% of the time this season. Working off that makes his other pitches that much harder to hit.
His nastiest pitch has been his splitter, which he throws almost every fourth pitch on average. His league-leading wSF (pitch-value of the split) of 7.1 dwarves Masahiro Tanaka’s 4.0 on his trusted split-finger.
While righties have only hit .207 against Ohtani, lefties have had an even harder time at .181. Impressive splits for a right-hander. He’s the real deal on the mound, folks. — Stuckey
Ian Kennedy: On the other end of the spectrum, Kennedy has really struggled this season. Through his first 12 starts, he has a 1-6 record with a 6.08 ERA — the third-highest among all qualified pitchers (trailing only Lucas Giolito and Homer Bailey).
While Kennedy hasn’t pitched great, he hasn’t had much luck. His 4.89 FIP tells a more accurate story of how he has performed. Not great by any means, but certainly not on the level of Bailey and his 6.24 FIP.
Opponents in 2018 have an astronomically high .342 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) against the Royals right-hander. Only Jon Gray and Lance Lynn have had worse luck on balls hit in play. You can expect that number to regress a bit, which will help improve his ERA.
However, I wouldn’t expect it to regress too much if he continues to give up hard contact. Kennedy has allowed a hard-hit percentage of 41.2% so far this season — the ninth-highest mark among all qualified pitchers.— Stuckey
Ansas City: I don’t think anyone would argue that the Royals are a good baseball team. They’re not. However, they’re not a great DFS matchup for pitchers simply due to their league-low strikeout rate. Through Monday, pitchers averaged a Plus/Minus of only -0.78 against Kansas City. Strikeout pitchers have especially struggled to live up to expectations, as pitchers with a K/9 of at least 9 have averaged only a Plus/Minus of -2.46.
With Ohtani priced at a lofty $11,100 at home as large favorite on DraftKings, he’s not a bad option for cash games. However, I don’t think he has the stud upside you might expect for GPPs. — Mark Gallant
In addition to possessing massive moneyline odds, Ohtani also enters today’s game in good recent form. Over the last month, he’s allowed an average exit velocity of just 84 mph and a hard-hit rate of 23% — both improvements from April. Pitchers with comparable moneyline odds and recent Statcast data have averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.06 on DraftKings and a Consistency Rating of 63.3%.
To add on to what Mark stated, the Royals own the lowest strikeout rate in the league against right-handed pitchers this year, but Ohtani’s K Prediction of 7.9 still tops all pitchers on Wednesday’s slate. With six pitchers having a salary of at least $10,000 on DraftKings, it’s easy to make the argument that Ohtani is the top option against a Royals offense that failed to score last night. — Matt LaMarca
Big Flys: So far this season, fly-ball hitters have absolutely mashed against Kennedy, an extreme fly-ball pitcher. Hitters with a fly-ball rate of at least 40% have a DraftKings Plus/Minus of +4.02 with a crazy 25% upside. Unfortunately for Kennedy, many of the Angels’ big bats fit the bill. Take a look at the ones who fit this trend and their corresponding DK salaries. — Mark Gallant
Umpire Watch: Since 2005, Jerry Meals has been one of the most profitable umps for visitors and underdogs. Road teams have gone 209-227 in his games for a net of 18.7 units. Meanwhile, underdogs have fared even better at 199-237 for 30.1 units.
Over that span, Meals grades as the third-most profitable ump for teams in Kansas City’s position tonight. Visiting dogs have gone 132-160 with him behind the plate — good for 26 units and an 8.9% ROI. — Danny Donahue
Halos Hit Junk: As Stuck mentioned, Kennedy enters this start with an ERA of 6.08. Over the last two seasons, the Angels are 32-18 (+9.8 units) when facing a starting pitcher with an ERA of 5.00 or higher. They’re the third-most profitable team in baseball in that scenario over that period. This season, the Angels have gone 10-5 in that situation, winning by an average of 2.2 runs per game. — Evan Abrams
One-Sided Ownage: With their 1-0 victory Tuesday, the Angels improved to 5-0 against the Royals this season. That is a change from last season when Kansas City had the upper hand, winning six of seven games. After K.C. limited LA to just 2.6 runs per game in 2017, the Angels have averaged 5.4 runs per game in their five 2018 meetings. Oddly enough, the clubs have taken turns dominating the other over the last few seasons. — John Ewing
- 2018: Angels lead season series 5-0
- 2017: Royals went 6-1
- 2016: Angels went 5-1
- 2015: Royals went 6-1
Stats via FanGraphs, Baseball Reference and MLB.com