A much busier Thursday than what we saw last week is on the table for the May 27 MLB card. A lot of day games are on the betting board as well. That limits the number of options we have for a spotlight preview today without much in the way of lead time. One game that we do have late is the matchup in the AL West between the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland Athletics.
Shohei Ohtani and Chris Bassitt are the listed starters for this one, as we’ve got Oakland lined in the -150 range with a total of 8 at Oakland Coliseum. Both teams played afternoon games on Wednesday and the Angels had just a short trip to the Bay Area, so we should have two teams rested and ready to go for the start of this weekend set.
Los Angeles Angels
Life without Mike Trout is never something that the Angels want to experience, but with Trout out for more than a week now, the Angels have done the best that they can. With Wednesday’s win over the Rangers, Los Angeles moved to 4-5 without the best player on the planet and they’ll have to keep working at it because Trout is not expected back for a while.
It seems unfair to list this without the Angels’ big outburst on Wednesday factored in, but it’s also unfair to look at season-long numbers with Trout out there for the majority of the games. The Angels are a pretty good offense when you include the park factors by using wRC+ to evaluate their performance. When adjusted based on road parks and also Angel Stadium, the Angels are about 5% better than league average for the season.
Over the previous seven days prior to another good offensive day on Wednesday, the Angels had a .327 wOBA and a 110 wRC+, so they hadn’t really shown any ill effects of being without Trout. Over the long haul, they will. Anything can happen in small sample sizes, though.
We’ll see if Shohei Ohtani is once again in the lineup on a day when he pitches. The Angels certainly hope so because he has a slugging percentage well over .600 and has been one of the better hitters in baseball this season. He’s also been a pretty good pitcher as well. He heads into this start with a 2.37 ERA and a 3.83 FIP in his 30.1 innings of work. There is one big area of concern and that is his walk rate with 22 walks in 129 batters.
He’s only allowed 16 hits in 30.1 innings, though, so that’s been an impressive number for him. Ohtani has 45 strikeouts as well, so he’s been able to eradicate those baserunners that reach via walk by punching out dudes left and right. It’s an interesting profile, one that a lot of bettors are skeptical about with the high walk rate and an 83.8% LOB%.
The A’s have really swung the bats well of late themselves. That stayed true on Wednesday when they hung a big number on the Mariners. Oakland has actually been one of the best offensive teams in the month of May, though it hasn’t fully shown up on the scoreboard, as the A’s ranked 17th in runs going into Wednesday’s game. They moved up the ranks a little bit with that performance. Nevertheless, Oakland has added some power and some swagger back into the mix with the third-highest SLG this month.
Given their home ballpark, that is no small feat and we’ve seen the park-adjusted metrics really love this team and its offense over the last few seasons. That is happening again this season. What is something new is that the A’s have really struggled defensively. We don’t usually see this from a team that employs Matt Chapman at third base and has put a huge emphasis on fielding over the years. These are actually two poor fielding teams this season, but the Angels are still much worse than the A’s.
Chris Bassitt gets the call here for Oakland. Bassitt is having an excellent year with 61 innings pitched and a 3.69 ERA with a 3.16 FIP. He has a career-best 25.7% K% on the season and has also seen some really positive gains with walks and home runs. Bassitt has also lowered his Hard Hit% from last season. His SwStr% is at 11.6%, easily the best of his career.
Pitching ahead in the count and getting swings and misses are going to go a long way. Bassitt does things a little bit differently than Ohtani in that he doesn’t have the blazing fastball or the wipeout breaking stuff, but good command and good control have combined to put him on track for a career year.
You also can’t talk about Oakland without discussing the bullpen. The A’s bullpen had a pretty light day on Wednesday, though Yusmeiro Petit struggled in his low-leverage appearance. The A’s have a borderline top-10 group out of the bullpen, which is a lot more than we can say for the Angels.
Angels vs. Athletics Free Pick
In this one, it’s tough to fade Ohtani with the big numbers that he is putting up, but it’s also hard to fade Bassitt and a really safe and solid profile with good control and good command. The -140 price tag does feel a little bit steep here in this game, as both teams swing the bats well and both starting pitchers are solid. Oakland’s bullpen is definitely better, which could lead to a 1st 5 bet instead of a full-game wager, but we’ll keep it simple and look at the Angels in this one.
Pick: Los Angeles Angels