Los Angeles Angels vs. Atlanta Braves (7/22/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

It’s Shohei Ohtani day! The reigning MVP gets the ball for the Angels on Friday in Atlanta, facing a Braves team hoping to make a run to an NL East title in the second half. The Angels have been horrendous for about two months now, but they transform into a formidable team when Ohtani is on the mound. In their last 39 games, the Angels are 6-0 when Ohtani starts and 6-27 when he doesn’t. Will his success continue against Charlie Morton and the Braves?

Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Friday’s matchup.

Los Angeles Angels vs. Atlanta Braves Betting Odds

Despite Ohtani’s dominance, the Braves enter this one as favorites at -154 on the money line. On the surface, the line makes plenty of sense. The Braves are 33-11 since the start of June, while the Angels have been utterly abysmal over the same stretch. It still surprises me that the Angels aren’t any better than +130 considering Ohtani’s dominance on the mound has usually been enough to lift a bad team to wins. Even if you don’t take the Angels in this one, there isn’t enough value to put anything on the Braves with Ohtani as the opposing pitcher.

Los Angeles Angels Starting Lineup

S. Ohtani R
9-4 2.38 ERA

2B M. Stefanic R
DH S. Ohtani L
CF T. Ward R
SS L. Rengifo S
RF J. Adell R
1B J. Walsh L
3B J. Villar S
C M. Stassi R
LF B. Marsh L

Los Angeles Angels vs. Charlie Morton

38-year-old Charlie Morton is having his worst full season since his Pirates days, posting a 4.48 ERA, 4.20 FIP, and 1.25 WHIP over 18 starts before the break. The two-time World Series champ is allowing a career-worst 1.4 HR/9, and an elevated walk rate has compounded the damage. Morton looked like he was starting to put it all together in late June and early July, pitching to a 1.60 ERA over a 5-start span, but he had all kinds of trouble in his last start of the first half against the Mets.

If any lineup could give Morton a chance to start the second half on a positive note, it’s the Angels’ unit. Los Angeles’ offense has fallen off steadily as the season has gone on, with their OPS dropping from .734 in May, to .641 in June, and now to .521 in May. They’re averaging only 2.6 runs/game in July as they continue to fall closer to the No. 1 pick than a postseason spot. Adding insult to injury, Mike Trout is set to miss Friday’s game while on the IL with a rib issue. The Angels’ only respectable bats leading up to the break were Ohtani and Luis Rengifo, who obviously can’t do it all on their own. Morton is averaging 8.5 strikeouts over his last eight starts, so he should be able to get some punchouts against baseball’s most strikeout-prone team.

Atlanta Braves Starting Lineup

C. Morton R
5-4 4.45 ERA

RF R. Acuna R
SS D. Swanson R
1B M. Olson L
3B A. Riley R
LF E. Rosario L
C T. d’Arnaud R
DH M. Ozuna R
2B R. Cano L
CF M. Harris L

Atlanta Braves vs. Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani won the AL MVP award last season as a hitter who could pitch, but this season he’s been an elite pitcher who can also hit. Ohtani’s last six starts have been phenomenal: 6-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 1.02 FIP, and 58 strikeouts. Batters are hitting just .146 against Ohtani in that span, and they’re hitting only .199 against him this season. Over 15 starts this year, Ohtani has a 2.38 ERA, 2.27 FIP, and a 0.99 WHIP. Despite not even qualifying for the ERA leaderboard with 87 innings, Ohtani is 5th among all AL pitchers with 123 strikeouts.

The Braves strike out more than every team not named the Angels, so there’s an immediate cause for concern against a pitcher as nasty as Ohtani. In fact, four of the NL’s eight strikeout “leaders” are Braves. But, it’s worth noting two of those four were hitting well going into the break. Austin Riley is batting .418 with 9 home runs over his last 18 games, while Matt Olson hit 4 home runs in the final week of the first half. It may be tough to rely on the home run against Ohtani, who’s allowed just 29 homers in 270 career innings. Beating one of baseball’s elite pitchers will either require the Braves to reverse course and stop striking out so much or battle hard enough to force the Angels to go to their bullpen early.

Los Angeles Angels vs. Atlanta Braves Picks & Prediction

My pick: Angels Moneyline (+130)

Maybe I shouldn’t be diving head first into the Ohtani hype, but he’s been so electric of late that it feels irresponsible to bet against him. This Braves lineup doesn’t give opposing pitchers any breaks, so I’ll admit regression from the reigning MVP wouldn’t be stunning. I just don’t see such a strikeout-prone offense giving Ohtani a ton of trouble unless he comes out rusty from the break. The Braves sent half of their lineup to the All-Star Game, so there’s always the risk of some fatigue on their end as well. The Braves are much better than the Angels. That’s no secret. With Ohtani on the mound, I think that gap is closed.

Dan is a lifelong sports fan and graduate of Boston University. He’s covered several sports on Instagram since he was 12 and now writes about everything from betting trends to breaking news for Lineups.

Hot MLB Stories