Shohei Ohtani (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to make his long-awaited return to the hill on Sunday for the LA Angels. On the other side, there is the Houston Astros’ whistleblower, Mike Fiers, who will get the starting nod for the Oakland Athletics. The Angels were 4-1 winners on Saturday after they lost in extra innings the night before. The A’s walked the Angels off with emphasis in the bottom of the 10th inning.
With 1 out and all they needed was a sac-fly to win, Matt Olson said forget about a sac-fly, and he went deep for a bases clearing grand slam. It was a crushing blow to UNDER backers, but I’ve been there before in extra innings. In fact, far worse in 2013 when the White Sox-Mariners went OVER the total in a 0-0 game in extra innings. Whenever I have a hard beat now, I think back to that day on June 5, 2013 and realize it could be much worse.
The Angels were backed by a stellar performance from Dylan Bundy, who went 6.2 innings with just 3 hits and 1 earned run conceded. A day after Olson played hero, he had to sit down with a 0 for 4 day at the plate. Ramon Laureano was the only Athletic on the day to record more than 1 hit. The Athletics are likely going to have to depend on their pitching to take them far this summer and into the fall.
Conversely, the Angels, as per usual, might need their offense to carry the load. They’ve been bitten by tough luck to their rotation for the last ten years. It feels like ever since Albert Pujols has been an Angel, it has been difficult for them to get through an entire year with a healthy rotation. Ohtani is supposed to develop into the ace for the Angels.
He has the talent, but was unable to pitch all of last season. Angels’ fans are keeping their fingers crossed that Ohtani bounced back to form. Fiers, who I regard as one of the more underrated pitchers in the majors, is slated to get the ball for the A’s. Head below for our free LA Angels vs. Oakland Athletics pick for July 26, 2020 in MLB.
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The last time we saw Ohtani pitching in a regular season game was on September 2, 2018 against the Houston Astros. He left after getting belted and experiencing some discomfort. Ohtani allowed 2 hits and 2 earned runs in 2.1 innings in that game. Overall, though, Ohtani was promising as a rookie pitcher, with an ERA of 3.31 and 1.16 WHIP in 51.2 innings of play. He showcased why people are so high on him.
Ohtani has the kind of stuff that can turn him into a yearly All-Star, but if he’s unable to stay on the mound because of injuries, then it’s all rather moot. In Ohtani’s final tune-up game prior to Sunday, he was sharp with 6 strikeouts across 5 innings in intrasquad competition. Ohtani conceded 5 base hits and nothing else in his final exhibition match before the real thing on Sunday against the A’s.
One of those hits should have been caught and ruled an error, so it was an impressive performance by Ohtani prior to his first regular season outing in 693 yards. When Ohtani is healthy and feeling it, the Angels are armed with quite the weapon in their starting rotation. It’s imperative if the Angels are going to have success in this shortened 60-game season.
Fiers is best known for blowing the whistle on the Astros’ cheating scandal, but he’s also a good pitcher who flies under the radar. While Fiers isn’t a star, he’s a bit better than he gets credit for. Fiers has been in the best form of his career the last two years. Between the Tigers and A’s in 2018, Fiers recorded an ERA of 3.56 and 1.18 WHIP in 31 games.
Fiers kept his ERA below 4.00 for the second consecutive year, with a 3.90 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 2019. He was at his best in Oakland, where Fiers posted a 2.90 ERA and 1.05 WHIP at home. In the previous season, Fiers had a 2.81 ERA and 1.16 WHIP at home. Fiers should hold up well in his 2020 debut in Oakland on Sunday. A battle against Ohtani awaits on Sunday.