Astros at Angels Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 4/13/2013
It wasn't a good week to be the best right-handed pitcher on a Los Angeles baseball team.
On Tuesday, the AL West-favored Angels put ace Jered Weaver on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left (non-throwing) elbow he hurt while falling off the mound in Sunday's game against Texas. Weaver is out 4-6 weeks.
On Thursday night in the first brawl of the baseball season (not counting the epic one in the WBC between Canada and Mexico), Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, the team's big free-agent acquisition this offseason, broke his left collarbone when Padres hitter Carlos Quentin charged the mound after getting plunked. Given the situation -- a 3-2 pitch in the sixth inning in a one-run game -- it is rather preposterous that Quentin would think Greinke was hitting him on purpose, but it was the third time Greinke has done it to Quentin over the years (not since 2009). Obviously Greinke is going to miss significant time.
While the NL West-favored Dodgers have mostly played to expectations thus far, the Angels have been a disaster at 2-7 entering Friday's series opener against Houston (and with the second-worst run differential in AL). As good as Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are, the player the Angels could least afford to lose was Weaver, who had finished in the Top 5 of the Cy Young voting each of the past three years. The Halos were hoping to re-sign Greinke this offseason after getting him from the Brewers in trade last season, but the Dodgers simply weren't going to be outbid for him. L.A. also traded Ervin Santana and bought out Dan Haren, thus ensuring 60 percent of the rotation would be new. They acquired Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas, which I wouldn't exactly call an upgrade on the trio the Angels lost.
With C.J. Wilson coming off offseason surgery, essentially the Angels were putting all their eggs in one basket in hoping Weaver could stay healthy. Now they are likely to regret that not adding another arm, and the staff hasn't been good thus far. The irony is that the one team with starting pitching depth was the Dodgers, but that's no longer the case with Greinke's injury. It was rather unlikely the Dodgers would trade with the Angels anyway to help a team in the same market. It's why you rarely see Mets-Yankees or White Sox-Cubs trades, either.
The Angels were overwhelming AL West favorites before the season but have dropped to +110 at Sportsbook.ag, now just ahead of Texas (+175).
Astros at Angels Betting Story Lines
Houston was expected to be terrible this year after setting a franchise record with 107 losses in 2012 and 106 the year before. The Astros became the first team with 106 or more losses in consecutive seasons since the 1964-65 New York Mets. The move to the powerful AL West was expected to increase that loss total in 2013. However, Houston hasn't been completely inept and actually is ahead of the Halos in the standings entering the weekend. The Astros even took two of three in Seattle this week for their first series win. Chris Carter has been a good acquisition, leading the team with three homers and five RBI, and Jose Altuve is one of the better second basemen in the league (.333, 1 HR, 6 RBI entering Friday).
The worst pitcher numbers-wise in the Houston rotation thus far will start Saturday's game in Anaheim: right-hander Lucas Harrell (0-2, 7.84). He pitched well in his season debut against Texas but was destroyed last time out by Oakland, allowing eight runs and seven hits (three homers) and walking five in just 4.1 innings. That ended his streak of 31 games pitching at least five innings. On the bright side, almost no Angels have ever seen him in a big-league game. In fact, current Angels have totaled six at-bats against Harrell.
Right-hander Garrett Richards is replacing Weaver in the rotation, as he did last year when Weaver was out almost a month with a back problem. In 2012, Richards was 4-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 30 appearances (nine starts). He started this year in the bullpen and had allowed a run and three hits while striking out five in 4.1 innings. Only one current Astro has an at-bat against Richards, and that's Carter, who struck out that one time. Richards was way better at home (4.43 ERA, .258 opponents' batting average) than on the road (5.04/.306) in 2012
Astros at Angels Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Los Angeles opened at -182 with Houston at +172 and the total at 8.5. All trends entering Friday: The Astros are 6-3 “over/under” (2-1) on road and 3-6 on runline. The Angels are 7-2 O/U (3-0 at home) and 5-4 on runline.
The Astros are 6-13 in Harrell's past 19 road starts. They are 3-9 in Harrell's last 12 starts vs. a team with a losing record. The Angels are 0-5 in their past five against right-handed starters. They are 4-1 in Richards' past five home starts. The under is 4-1 in Harrell's past five starts. The over is 4-1-1 in Richards' past six starts.
Astros at Angels Picks and Betting Predictions
Los Angeles was just swept at home by Oakland, outscored 28-11. It was the A's first sweep in Anaheim since 1996. Wilson, Blanton and Vargas allowed a combined 15 earned runs and 26 hits in 16 2/3 innings, and L.A. is off to its worst start since the inaugural 1961 season. Things are so bad that Mike Scioscia moved Trout from leadoff to No. 2 in Thursday's series finale. Trout hit leadoff in every game last season. He has been invisible so far, as has Josh Hamilton.
Still, I do think the Angels will have a sense of urgency already. Why? If you want to win the AL West this season you probably need to win like 15-16 games against the Astros instead of 9-10. The Rangers (2-1) and A's (3-0) already have taken care of business against Houston. L.A. will do the same. Take the Halos on the moneyline and the over, but I do like Houston at -120 on the runline in this one.
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