If you like 100mph fastballs, nasty breaking balls, and an overall exciting starting pitching matchup, this is your game.
Shohei Ohtani and Alek Manoah will take the mound for this Los Angeles Angels vs Toronto Blue Jays matchup. The over/under for total strikeouts in this game may approach 25.
The Angels are a pathetic baseball organization while the Blue Jays have won seven of their last eight. Can Ohtani carry his pathetic Angels to a victory here?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Saturday’s battle.
Los Angeles Angels vs Toronto Blue Jays Odds
Even with the magical Ohtani on the mound, the Blue Jays have opened as huge favorites. That makes sense, given the level of incompetence in Anaheim.
However, Ohtani is often a public betting figure. The money tends to pour in on his starts, and therefore the Angels become overvalued. Plus, we cannot overlook just how good of a pitcher Manoah is.
Let’s dive into this matchup a bit more.
Los Angeles Angels Starting Lineup
2B D. Fletcher R
CF M. Trout R
DH S. Ohtani L
3B L. Rengifo S
1B M. Ford L
RF R. Aguilar L
LF J. Adell R
C M. Stassi R
SS A. Velazquez S
Los Angeles Angels vs Alek Manoah
Manoah has been a force ever since he first arrived at Rogers Centre last season. At just 24 years old, he’s firmly established himself as one of the league’s best young pitchers, and he will be atop that Blue Jay rotation for years to come.
Manoah is a big boy, standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 285 pounds. As such, he can zip his fastball in the high-90s, and his four-seam has accumulated a -14 Run Value this season. There are only four pitchers in baseball with a better four-seam Run Value and only five with a higher four-seam Whiff rate.
Manoah pairs that with a slider that keeps hitters off balance. Especially lefties, who barely notice when Manoah back-doors his breaking ball.
Alek Manoah, 2 White Castle Specials in 1 inning. 🤮🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔 pic.twitter.com/P7lYrnSY1B
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 21, 2022
For a guy with 10 K/9 stuff, Manoah is surprisingly adept at avoiding hard contact. He’s kept his Hard-Hit rate at 31% over the past two seasons, ranking in the top 10% of qualified pitchers in the stat.
When you can overpower hitters with strikeouts while limiting their ability to barrel the ball, you’re going to be a successful pitcher. And that’s Manoah, who has pitched to a 2.66 ERA this season while accumulating 2.6 fWAR.
I’d expect plenty of strikeouts today. The Angels have struck out at the league’s second-highest rate over the past month, fanning over 26% of the time against RHPs. They also have the fourth-lowest contact rate in baseball and the sixth-lowest chase contact rate.
As such, the Angels have allowed nine of the last 10 opposing pitchers they’ve faced to go over their strikeout total.
Ohtani and Mike Trout will rake, but the rest of the lineup is helpless. Taylor Ward is beginning a slight renaissance, but it hasn’t been enough to get their wRC+ above 80.
Add in the Angels’ pitiful bullpen and bottom-five defense, and this is not a fun ball club to watch.
Toronto Blue Jays Starting Lineup
DH G. Springer R
1B V. Guerrero R
LF L. Gurriel R
C A. Kirk R
RF T. Hernandez R
SS B. Bichette R
3B M. Chapman R
2B S. Espinal R
CF J. Bradley L
Toronto Blue Jays vs Shohei Ohtani
Ohtani is a strikeout machine.
He’s made nine starts this season with double-digit strikeouts, including a run of six straight from mid-June through July. Only two pitchers in baseball have a higher strikeout rate than him, and he’s kept his K/9 well above 12 this season.
It’s all about the splitter. He doesn’t throw it too much, but hitters have Whiffed over 50% of the time at the pitch, and it’s recorded a whopping 65% strikeout rate.
There’s Shohei Ohtani’s splitter right after 101. pic.twitter.com/JkrNfYLLQN
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) April 5, 2021
Ohtani’s biggest improvement has been his slider, however. It’s become his most-used pitch and he’s recorded a whopping -17 Run Value on it. His spin rates are slightly up on both his breaking pitches, and Ohtani has been unstoppable because of it.
Ohtani’s ERA, xERA, FIP, and xFIP all sit between 2.61 and 2.90, and he’s accumulated a whopping 3.6 fWAR as a pitcher in just 121 innings. That’s over a win more than the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin has accumulated, and Gonsolin is in second place in the NL Cy Young markets.
However, Ohtani’s had two shaky starts the past few weeks. The Mariners got him for two runs over six innings and the Tigers got him for three runs over four innings. He also recorded just two strikeouts against the Tigers and five against the strikeout-happy Athletics.
Now, Ohtani will battle a huge increase in talent. The Blue Jays are the hardest-hitting lineup in baseball, but they never strike out. The Jays have fanned less than 18% of the time this season while hitting over 150 home runs.
That’s a dangerous combination.
Ohtani has faced the Blue Jays just once in his career, and he got shelled. The Jays got him for five runs on six hits over six innings. Ohtani did manage 10 strikeouts, however.
Los Angeles Angels vs Toronto Blue Jays Pick & Prediction
My picks: Over 7.5 (+100 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
For all the magic he’s produced this season, the Angels are just 10-11 in Ohtani starts this season. If you had bet the Angels ML in every single Ohtani start this year, you’d be down about 4.5 units.
However, the Angels are also 0-3 in Ohtani starts as an underdog.
But there’s no value with the Blue Jays at such a juiced line. Instead, I’ll make a contrarian play on the over with two elite pitchers on the mound.
Money will pour in on the under for this pitching matchup, but Ohtani has been shaky recently. Manoah is a stud, but he’s due for some slight regression (3.60 xERA, 3.81 xFIP).
Plus, these are two bullpens that rank among the bottom-10 teams in reliever xFIP. With these two relief cores, the Angels and Blue Jays could crack 7.5 in the last three frames.
Four of the last five games between these two have gone over, so I’ll bet they do it one more time.