Los Angeles Angels vs Houston Astros
Wednesday, May 12, 2021 – 08:10 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park
● Angels: Andrew Heaney (1-2, 4.11 ERA)
● Astros: Jose Urquidy (3-2, 3.51 ERA)
Stakes of the Matchup
The Houston Astros are one of the best teams in the league, but you would not know it by looking at their 19-17 record. They have a +32 run differential which is the third best in the league. Their lineup averages 5.03 runs per game which is the fourth best in the league. Last year the Astros were a game away from winning the American League pennant despite finishing the regular season with a winning record. Even without the cheating, the Astros are still one of the best teams in the league. As the saying goes, you should not judge a book by its cover.
Opposing the Houston Astros are the Los Angeles Angels who are in last place in the AL West. While the Astros are 2.5 games behind the first place Oakland A’s, the Angels are five games behind. Additionally, the Angels have a -26 run differential which is the fourth worst in the league. Even though the Angels are playing lousy, they still have two of the best players in baseball in OF Mike Trout and DH Shohei Ohtani. The question for Wednesday night’s game is if the Angels can win with a combination of good hitting from their stars and good pitching from their starting pitcher Andrew Heaney.
In Wednesday’s game, the LA Angels are better positioned to win than usual thanks to their starting pitcher Andrew Heaney. Currently, Heaney has a 1-2 record with a 4.11 ERA. However, Heaney also has an xFIP of 2.73 which signals that he has been unlucky this season due to fielding and stadium effects. With a strikeout rate of 12.91 strikeouts per nine innings, plus his low xFIP, Heaney is a dangerous pitcher for Los Angeles moving forward. Opposing Heaney is Astros starting pitcher Jose Urquidy. Compared to Heaney, Urquidy is the complete opposite. While Urquidy has a 3.51 ERA, his xFIP is 4.85. Even though Urquidy has not allowed many runs this season, at some point he is going to have a game where he does poorly.
Currently Urquidy has an exceptionally low strikeout rate of 6.37 strikeouts per nine innings. Against an Angels team that is averaging only 7.88 strikeouts per game, the third lowest in the league, Urquidy could struggle if he gets into a situation where several runners are on base. Currently the Angels are averaging 4.76 runs per game which is the 8th best in the league. Urquidy is particularly vulnerable against DH Shohei Ohtani and OF Mike Trout. My only worry about betting on the Angels is if they announce that Ohtani is not playing due to him resting after pitching Tuesday’s game.
Even on the road at Houston, the LA Angels should be favored. They have a decent starting pitcher in Andrew Heaney and a strong lineup to back him up. The Houston Astros are one of the better teams in the league, but Wednesday night’s game is a bad spot for them. Jose Urquidy is one of my favorite regression candidates for the remainder of the season, and I believe that he is overvalued by the betting markets. Additionally, the Astros bullpen is especially vulnerable as well.
MLB Pick: Los Angeles Angels Moneyline +105 (BetOnline)