Happy Shohei Ohtani day!
The two-way superstar takes the mound on Wednesday evening for the Los Angeles Angels matchup with the Chicago White Sox. The ChiSox will have the young-and-upcoming righty Michael Kopech on the mound.
Sadly, both teams continue to flounder, with the two a combined eight games under .500.
So, both teams could use a series win here – who gets it?
Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Wednesday’s matchup.
Chicago White Sox vs Los Angeles Angels Odds
With Ohtani pitching, the White Sox are always going to be big underdogs. The guy is too good to ignore in the betting markets.
However, I think that means there’s some value on the other side here. Kopech is good, sporting a 2.58 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP despite his lackluster record.
Chicago White Sox Starting Lineup
M. Kopech R
2-4 2.59 ERA
SS T. Anderson R
DH A. Vaughn R
CF L. Robert R
1B J. Abreu R
LF A.J. Pollock R
3B Y. Moncada S
RF G. Sheets L
2B J. Harrison R
C R. McGuire L
Chicago White Sox vs Shohei Ohtani
Ohtani is still striking out close to 12 batters per nine innings. Combine that with a walk rate that has dropped precipitously year-over-year, and you get a pitcher with an ERA, xERA, FIP, and xFIP all under 3.00.
Ohtani has recorded more pitching fWAR (1.9) this season than batting fWAR (1.4), proving himself as the de-facto ace of an Angels staff that can struggle to find a consistent identity.
The splitter is still forcing a Whiff rate near 50%, but it’s his slider and fastball that have posted a combined -14 Run Value. Shohei is throwing the slider more than he ever has before, cutting into his fastball usage in favor of this secondary pitch that breaks 7.4 inches more than the average MLB slider.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
I’d be careful with this White Sox offense. They’ve posted the seventh-highest wRC+ over the past month (112) with the eighth-lowest strikeout rate. However, most of that success comes against southpaws, wherein the White Sox are the best lineup against LHPs in the bigs.
It sure is nice to have Tim Anderson back, however. He’s just 6-for-26 since coming back from injury, but his xBA still ranks in the 94th percentile. Anderson is the X-factor for a White Sox team that needs to wake up as soon as possible.
Los Angeles Angels Starting Lineup
S. Ohtani R
6-4 2.90 ERA
RF T. Ward R
CF M. Trout R
DH S. Ohtani L
3B D. MacKinnon R
1B J. Walsh L
2B L. Rengifo S
C M. Stassi R
LF B. Marsh L
SS A. Velazquez S
Los Angeles Angels vs Michael Kopech
Kopech has a 2.59 ERA while pitching over 60 innings in 13 starts. He’s been a savior for a staff that’s hurt and struggling with Lucas Giolito.
This is all smoke-and-mirrors.
His BABIP is .191. He’s walking over four batters per nine innings. His HR/FB rate is almost 10% below his career average. And he ranks in just the 33rd percentile of pitchers in avg. exit velocity allowed.
Kopech’s xFIP is up at 4.74. Regression is coming.
And what better team to force that regression than the Angels? The Halos rank among the top-10 MLB teams in barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and avg. exit velocity.
However, these Angels also rank 26th in MLB in wRC+ over the last month (87). They’re third-to-last in OPS (.657).
Mike Trout still has an OPS over 1.000, and he is slashing .322/.429/.864 with nine home runs since he broke out of his 4-for-46 slump.
But outside of Trout, the Angels just don’t have the horses to go right now.
Chicago White Sox vs Los Angeles Angels Pick & Prediction
My picks: Under 8 (-125 at WynnBet Sportsbook)
The Angels are slumping and the White Sox can’t hit right-handed hitting. The wind is blowing straight out, but there aren’t many guys on either roster to get the ball out of the park against these pitchers.
I would look towards the White Sox as underdogs in this spot, but this is such a poor matchup against Ohtani. The White Sox are the third-worst team in the league against fastballs (-24 Weighted Fastball Runs Created) and sliders (-25.9 Weighted Slider Runs Created).
The Angels have a better shot to get to Kopech because he’s due for so much regression, but the Halos cannot string together rallies with only two or three plus-hitters.
Sharp money has already hit this under and the total has stayed under the listed total in four of the last five games between these two.
I’ll take it to go under one more time.