Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros – MLB April 22

8:10 p.m. ET – Angels at Astros (-125) O/U: 9

The 9-7 Angels travel to Houston to take on the 7-10 Astros to open their four-game series on Thursday evening. Los Angeles is coming off a disappointing series at home against the Rangers in which they lost two of three games. Wednesday the Angels gave up six runs in the eighth and ninth innings to blow a 4-1 lead and ultimately lose the series finale, 7-4. Houston has had nothing but disappointing series over the past week and a half, losing nine of their last 10 games.

Most recently the Astors lost two games in Colorado to the lowly Rockies and were outscored 12-5 during the two-game interleague series.

About the Angels

Two-time MVP and consensus best player in baseball Mike Trout is leading the Los Angeles lineup to success at the plate to start the season. Trout is batting .393 with six home runs and 12 RBI and is coming off a huge series against the Rangers. Over the final two games, Trout went 5-for-8 with two home runs, a double and two RBI.

All of the Angels’ success has come with one of the game’s best third basemen, Anthony Rendon, on the 10-Day Injured List with a groin injury suffered earlier this month. The Angels lineup has not skipped a beat, averaging the second-most runs per game in the American League West with 5.3 per game. Pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is off to an unbelievable start at the plate this season, batting .310 with five home runs and 13 RBI. Ohtani also appears to have returned to his pre-Tommy John surgery velocity on the mound, boasting a 1.04 ERA in two starts so far this season. He does need to work on his control, having walked six in just four inning of work in his last outing.

Despite Ohtani’s resurgence on the mound, the pitching staff is what has held Los Angeles back for the majority of the past decade and it appears to be more of the same this season. The Angels have a team ERA of 4.72, which is the third-highest in all of baseball. Another major issue has been defense, as they are tied for the most errors in the American League this year with 17 of them in only 16 games.

About the Astros

Houston Astros LogoHouston is sitting in last place in the American League West and is struggling to find answers both at the plate and on the mound. The Astros were hit hard with Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Martin Maldonado being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list for over a week this April. Star second baseman Altuve has yet to return to the team.

Not only have the Astros lost nine of their last 10 games, they have not scored more than five runs in a single one of those contests and have reached five runs only once. If the Astros want to right the ship before irreversible damage is done, they will need Altuve, Alvarez and Bregman to not only all rejoin the lineup but for all of them to have immediate success. In their absence, Yuli Gurriel and Michael Brantley stepped up and hit over .300. Star shortstop Carlos Correa is not far behind, batting .273 with three home runs. The issue is no one can get on base for these three so their success in the batter’s box has not translated into many runs.

The pitching staff, meanwhile, has not been doing the team many favors, either, with the exception of right-handers starter Cristian Javier and Zack Grienke. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are not walking through that door to pitch the Astros to 2-0 wins this year, so they better start finding a way to score some runs soon.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Los Angeles Angels +1½ (-180) +115 O 9 (+100)
Houston Astros -1½ (+150) -135 U 9 (-120)

The Pitching Matchup

Los Angeles is turning to right-hander Alex Cobb on Thursday evening. Cobb is 1-0 on the season with a 4.63 ERA and 17 strikeouts across 11.2 innings of work. Cobb has struggled in past seasons with giving up the long ball, but has allowed only one home run in his two starts on the season.

Houston is looking to right-hander Cristian Javier to find a way to get the Astros back into the win column in the series opener. Javier has been one of the few bright spots for Houston this season, boasting a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings pitched across two starts. The Astros will be looking for Javier to manage his pitch count better in future starts to allow himself a chance to go deeperinto the ballgames to delay the horrid Houston bullpen from taking over.

What’s the Bet?
The Astros’ struggles have been well documented, but Los Angeles also limps into this series as losers of five of its last eight games. Houston is close to full strength, but laying juice on a team with just one win in its last 10 games offers no value.

The value for this game actually lies within the Over/Under total. This total is inflated, as the Astros just played two games out at Coors Field against a terrible Rockies pitching staff and neither game combined for over nine runs. Both starting pitchers in this game are solid big- league starters who should be able to hold the other side in check for the first five innings. As we saw with Los Angeles yesterday, avoid that bullpen at all costs because they can give up a crooked number in the blink of an eye.

Take the First Five innings Under of 4.5 runs to take the two bad bullpens out of play.
The Bet
First Five Innings Under 4.5

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie

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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.

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