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Angels vs. Astros MLB Odds & Picks: How to Find Value Between Struggling AL West Teams (Thursday, April 22)

Angels vs. Astros MLB Odds & Picks: How to Find Value Between Struggling AL West Teams (Thursday, April 22) article feature image

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: A cold Carlos Correa.

  • The Astros and Angels have both been scuffling of late entering their second series of the season.
  • Alex Cobb meets Cristian Javier as each team will be looking to get back on track.
  • Michael Arinze previews the meeting and makes his pick below.

Angels vs. Astros Odds

Angels Odds+114
Astros Odds-134
Over/Under9 (-102 / -120)
Time8:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday morning and via FanDuel.

The Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros limp into their second series this season. Both teams come in not only off a loss, but they also lost their most recent series played. The Angels have gone 3-5 in their last eight games while the Astros are on a three-game losing streak.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the Astros did lose four starters to the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocols list, but the truth is, they were already in a funk before the outbreak. Houston now has three of those four starters back, with José Altuve expected to remain sidelined for the time being.

However, even with Houston closer to full-strength, can we really trust a team with just one win in its last 10 games?

Let's dig into the details and see if there's anything we can glean on a favorable side in this matchup.

Los Angeles Angels

Alex Cobb will get the start for the Angels in the series opener. Through two starts, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA. However, his 2.04 FIP suggests that he's performed at a higher level than his ERA shows. Cobb has a 13.11 K/9 rate which would be the highest in his career, and his 1.54 BB/9 ratio is also above average.

If you look at how he's faired against contact, his 3.20 GB/FB ratio is superb. This makes sense because Cobb pitches low in the zone and is predominantly a split-finger (45.4%) and sinker (33%) pitcher who mixes in the occasional curveball (21.6%) from time to time.

Cobb is at his best when he's able to keep the ball down. His best years early in his career occurred when he kept his HR/9 ratio below one. While it's only been a small sample size thus far, he's off to a good start with that number currently at 0.77 HR/9.

Houston's lineup has 48 plate appearances against Cobb and has collectively yet to hit a home run off of him. Astros hitters have a .256/.312/.349 line with him on the mound and a below-average .093 ISO.

Houston Astros

Houston will call up Cristian Javier from its alternate site to make his third start of the season on Thursday. Javier hasn't pitched in the majors since Apr. 8. The reason for that isn't performance-based but rather for scheduling purposes. With multiple off days built into Houston's schedule to start the season, the Astros didn't need another starter and optioned him to make room for another reliever between his outings.

When called upon, the right-hander has pitched well thus far in 8 2/3 innings. He's 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, but while his FIP is even better at 1.57, his low GB/FB (0.67) ratio gives me a reason to pause.

Last year, Javier finished with a 0.56 GB/FB ratio but ended up with a 4.94 FIP, which was higher than his 3.48 ERA. He did manage to go 5-2 in his 10 starts, but he might have experienced some regression had the season been longer.

The sample size for Javier is still relatively small considering he's only made 14 appearances in the big leagues. So it bears some watching to see if he can continue in this manner and still keep the regression gods at bay.

Angels-Astros Pick

One thing that makes this handicap particularly difficult is I'm not sure which Astros team will show up, even with Alex Bregman, Martín Maldonado, and Yordan Alvarez all returning from the COVID-19 IL.

It's not clear if the Astros' players actually contacted the virus, but if so, who is to say there won't be some lingering effects? And how much do those players' absences have to do with Houston's scoring outage that's led to just eight runs in the last four games? There is also uncertainty related to the Angels, as they only have 10 at-bats between four players against Javier.

With that said, if I had to pick a side, I would lean to the Angels.

I have more trust in Cobb based on what I've seen thus far as his groundball and home run rates mirror some of the best seasons he had earlier in his career.

Another reason to like the Angels is that they're 4-1 when coming off a loss this season.

This is just a lean for me, but if I were looking to play this game, I'd consider placing my action at FanDuel, since they have the best price on the board at +114.

Pick: Lean Angels ML (+114)

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