Astros vs. Angels: Junk Science

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Janson Junk #66 of the Los Angeles Angels. Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images/AFP

If you can overlook the tanking, the Los Angeles Angels are a viable MLB pick for Wednesday’s matchup with the Houston Astros.

Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 – 9:38 PM EDT at Angel Stadium

It’s not quite official yet as we go to press, but it soon will be: The Los Angeles Angels will miss the playoffs for the seventh year in a row. They were 72-78 heading into Tuesday’s action, dropping 3.72 betting units along the way; aside from the delightful Shohei Ohtani, this has been a lost season in Anaheim, with both Mike Trout (calf) and Anthony Rendon (hamstring) out long-term. Stick a fork in them. They’re done.

The Houston Astros (89-61, plus-1.25 units), on the other hand, are within a whisker of clinching a playoff spot in the American League – and will almost certainly win the AL West in the process. So, naturally, we’re putting the Angels in our MLB picks for Wednesday’s matchup. That’s how things work around here. The Halos are available at +193 with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review), and we’re pretty confident that will prove to be a bargain once we run the numbers.

Tanks Across America

FiveThirtyEight has done most of the heavy lifting for us. They’ve got Anaheim’s chances of winning at 40 percent, and you shouldn’t need a gambling calculator to know that’s the same as +150 on the money line, but go ahead and use the amazing BMR Odds Converter if you want to double-check. Given the gap between that projection and the actual MLB odds, we have the incentive to put a healthy amount of money on the home dogs.

Or do we? The Angels have very little incentive to win Wednesday’s game; in fact, they’re quickly moving up the board for the 2022 MLB Draft, where they currently hold the No. 12 pick after losing four straight (all of them at home) and 10 of their last 14. At the same time, there’s no need for Houston to go all-out in this matchup, but let’s keep that bet size small, just in case there are any shenanigans ago.

FIP Or Fold

Speaking of shenanigans, Janson Junk is going to take the mound for Los Angeles. He’s pitched eight innings over two starts since getting the call earlier this month, and he allowed just one earned run in each game; the Halos split the pair for a profit of 0.65 units. However, Junk’s 2.25 ERA turns into an unsightly 7.41 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) when you look a little more closely.

He’s already cost the Angels 0.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to FanGraphs. That’s not easy to do in just eight innings. Houston responds with Luis Garcia (3.47 FIP), who’s pitched very well in his first full year in the bigs. Alas, all that good work has the Astros down 0.69 units on a team record of 15-11. Not so nice. This is a chalky team now that the surprise has worn off from their quick return to prominence; let’s see if we can take advantage with a contrarian bet on the other side, and may the sphere be with you.

MLB Pick: Angels +193 with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.