MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Tigers vs. Angels: How to Bet Shohei Ohtani’s Start, Broadcast on YouTube (Thursday, June 17)
Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: Shohei Ohtani.
- Detroit and Los Angeles begin a four-game series at Angel Stadium on Thursday, broadcast on YouTube.
- AL MVP candidate Shohei Ohtani gets the start, and he'll face one of Detroit's top prospects making his MLB debut.
- Tanner McGrath explains, below, why he thinks there could be some late-inning fireworks.
Tigers vs. Angels Odds
|Time||9:38 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday evening and via DraftKings.|
For two teams that have posted a combined -87 run differential this season, there are a multitude of storylines in this Tigers-Angels series opener.
First, there’s two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani on the mound. Ohtani has garnered MVP interest for posting an ERA below 3.00 while posting an OPS close to 1.000.
Second, the Tigers have called up their No. 1 pitching prospect to start this game: Matt Manning. Manning has had some up-and-down years in AA and AAA ball, and the Tigers were probably hoping to keep him in Toledo for a few more starts, but the injury bug had different plans.
Finally, the Tigers swept their last series while the Angels just get swept.
There’s a reason why this is MLB’s game of the week streamed on YouTube. It’s hard for me to pick a side in this game, but the wind is blowing straight out of the ballpark, perhaps putting value on the total.
Tigers Are Bad, But Better Than Expected
In an unlikely turn of events, the Tigers just swept the Royals in Kansas City. While they certainly aren’t good (12.5 GB AL Central, 14 GB AL Wildcard), they are somewhat over performing expectations.
By “over performing expectations”, I simply mean they aren’t the worst team in the league. In fact, they have a better record than the Twins, Orioles, Rangers, Pirates, Rockies, Diamondbacks and they have the same record as the Marlins.
While overall, the Tigers are a poor baseball team, they are finding contributions in oft-unlikely spots. Akil Baddoo was the breakout star at the beginning of the season, and now Jonathan Schoop has been raking. On May 22, Schoop was batting .210 with a .554 OPS, but he’s batting .360 with a 1.132 OPS in the 22 games since. Plus, he went 6 for 14 in the Royals series with three RBIs and a homer.
The bullpen has been easily the worst group in the league, but they managed to keep the Royals offense relatively tame. In game one of the series, Matt Boyd left injured after just 2 1/3 innings, and the Tiger relievers allowed only three runs the rest of the way.
The best group for the Tigers has been the starting rotation. However, with injuries to that group, the Tigers had to call up their top pitching prospect:
Starting pitcher: Matt Manning (RHP)
With Spencer Turnbull and Matt Boyd battling injuries, the Tigers had to send down Wilson Ramos to make room for a fourth rotation arm.
The Tigers took Manning in the first round of the 2016 draft (9th overall) and will be making his MLB debut tonight. The California native is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Tigers system and the No. 18 MLB prospect overall.
At 6-foot-6 and 195lbs, Manning has a fastball that’s consistently in the mid 90s and has hit triple digits. He pairs that heater with a plus curveball and a changeup that needs work. Manning’s three-pitch mix needs some development, as his walk rates indicate he has some control issues.
#Tigers Matt Manning
FB 91-95 t96 bumped to the upper band after the first, showed some run glove side
CB 79-81 flashed plus 12/6 action
CH 86-90 lived mostly in the upper band, lacks feel and consistent desired velo
Lots of comfortable swings and loud outs across 6.2, 2 ER pic.twitter.com/4Vl3LqudA7
— Jake Boes (@BoesKnowsBB) May 23, 2021
While Manning dominated AA and was even named the Eastern League player of the year in 2019 (24 GS, 11-5, 2.56 ERA, .98 WHIP, 10.97 K/9), he was definitely called up out of need, as his numbers this year with AAA Toledo are not good.
In seven starts with the Mud Hens this season, Manning has posted an 8.07 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP over 32 1/3 innings. His 4.36 xFIP isn’t awful, as he strikes out more than 10 batters per nine while walking less than three. But his big problem has been the long ball, as 36.1% of his fly balls are leaving the park this season. He has allowed 11 total home runs, including in six of his seven AAA starts, twice allowing three homers in one game.
It’s All Offense For The Angels
After a 12-18 May that, at one point, saw the Angels in last place in the AL West, the Angels are 9-4 in the month of June.
It’s been all about the offense. Even without Mike Trout, the Angels are second in MLB in OPS (.852), wOBA (.366) and wRC+ (135) in the month of June. Max Stassi, Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani all have an OPS above 1.000 and a wOBA above .450 during this stretch.
However, despite the lineup producing 13 runs in three games, the Angels just suffered a sweep at the hands of the A’s. The starting pitching was to blame for this most recent debacle, as Bundy, Heaney and Canning combined to allow 12 earned in 12 1/3 innings pitched. The bullpen was similarly bad.
Between a combination of hot bats and cold arms, the Angels are 9-1 to the over in their last 10 games. This stretch means the Angels are now 41-27 to the over on the season, the second highest over percentage in MLB (Twins).
Hopefully their uber talented two-way starter today can get the rotation back on track:
Starting pitcher: Shohei Ohtani (RHP)
Any Ohtani conversation needs to start with his splitter.
Ohtani’s splitter is his second most used pitch which he throws about 20% of the time. He tosses it about 88 mph, and it drops straight down with little horizontal movement.
There’s Shohei Ohtani’s splitter right after 101. pic.twitter.com/JkrNfYLLQN
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) April 5, 2021
On 154 split finger pitches this season, opponents are hitting .064 with a .094 SLG and a .106 wOBA. Additionally, opponents whiff on the pitch a whopping 60% of the time. All-in-all, the pitch has recorded a run value total of -7, making it one of the deadliest pitches in baseball.
Ohtani’s splitter summarizes what kind of pitcher Ohtani is. He’s a good pitcher because he misses bats, as he has a super high whiff rate (90th percentile among qualified pitchers) and a super high strikeout rate (12.93 K/9). By missing bats, Ohtani has posted a 2.85 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP through nine starts this season.
However, when Ohtani gets hit, he gets hit hard. He’s posted a hard-hit rate above 43%, and his average exit velocity is above 90 mph – both stats that rank in the bottom 30% of qualified pitchers.
But Ohtani’s four-seamer – which he throws more than half the time – is consistently in the upper 90s. So, the hard contact could be somewhat justified.
What can’t be justified is Ohtani’s control issues. He’s walking 5.32 batters per nine, one of the highest marks in MLB. Combine that with his low .250 BABIP, which should head towards .300 as the year goes on, and Ohtani’s xERA is above 3.50.
Ohtani’s been nails his past few starts, however. Against the Mariners and Diamondbacks, Ohtani tossed 11 innings while allowing four earned and posting an 18:2 strikeout to walk ratio.
It’s tough to handicap this game.
The Angels have been hot, but they just got swept by a good team. Meanwhile, the Tigers are a bad team who just swept another, slightly-less-bad team.
What makes this game even more difficult to cap is the starter making his MLB debut. Do we evaluate Manning on his AA performance and his awesome fastball? Or, rather, do we evaluate him on his current run of terrible starts in AAA?
We can, however, easily evaluate the bullpens: Both are terrible. The Angels bullpen has been blowing late-game leads all season and has posted a 5.36 FIP over the past seven days. Meanwhile, the Tigers bullpen has been the worst in baseball all season. While they’ve been better recently, the Tigers relievers have also pitched the most innings of any bullpen over the past seven days (38) while posting an xFIP above 5.50.
These are two offenses with some amount of power. The Angels have been hitting like crazy recently, and they’re the third-highest home scoring team in MLB (5.56 home runs per game). Meanwhile, Schoop and the Tigers offense have been hitting alright recently, and they’ve actually posted a top-10 road offense over the past 30 days (109 away wRC+, seventh in MLB).
Basically, I’m definitely banking on late-game fireworks. However, I know Manning can’t be trusted, and Ohtani has allowed at least two runs in four straight starts. So, there are tons of spots where runs can come from in this game.
Which is why I’m betting over 8.5 runs at -120 or better.
Pick: Over 8.5 (-120)