Happy Shohei Day to all who celebrate. Shohei Ohtani (3-0, 0.64 ERA) takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon, as he looks to lead L.A. to a series win over the Oakland Athletics. First pitch from Angel Stadium is set for 4:07 p.m. ET. Ohtani will be opposed by A’s lefty JP Sears (0-1, 4.98).
Unsurprisingly, the Angels are heavy -285 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while Oakland checks in as a +240 underdog. The run total is set at 8.5.
Athletics-Angels picks: Thursday, April 27
Out: OF Ramon Laureano (groin), SP Adrian Martinez (elbow), RP Paul Blackburn (finger), RP Drew Rucinski (hamstring), 1B/OF Seth Brown (oblique), C Manny Pina (wrist), RP Trevor May (anxiety-related issues), RP Domingo Acevedo (lower back/oblique), RP Dany Jimenez (shoulder)
Out: C Logan O’Hoppe (shoulder), RP Chris Warren (elbow), RP Ryan Tepera (shoulder), 1B Jared Walsh (headaches/insomnia), C Max Stassi (hip)
JP Sears vs. Shohei Ohtani
Acquired as part of the Frankie Montas trade last summer, Sears has been a bit of a pleasant surprise so far this year, with above-average whiff and strikeout rates thanks to a new slider that batters have swung and missed on a whopping 50 percent of the time. The lefty doesn’t throw particularly hard, though, so when batters make contact it’s usually loud: His six homers allowed are among the highest in baseball and help explain his bloated ERA. The good and bad for Sears was on full display in his last outing, when he struck out 11 but allowed four runs on five hits over six innings against the Texas Rangers.
Ohtani has been his typically ridiculous self on the mound, with a fastball that sits at 97 mph and a ridiculous slider and splitter to keep batters guessing. The walks will always be the Achilles’ heel, but usually the stuff is too good for it to matter — just ask the Kansas City Royals, who Ohtani blanked over seven innings while striking out 11 in his last outing.
You have to assume that Ohtani will hold the A’s to only a run or two, unless L.A.’s bullpen really implodes. (Which, hey, stranger things have happened.) That puts the onus on the Angels to put up a big number on Sears, and while the Halos hit lefties well, Sears’ swing-and-miss ability makes me think he’ll at least be able to hold his own. Give me the under in this spot.
Pick: Under 8.5
Even if Sears does pitch well, though, the margin for error will be so small with Ohtani on the mound. I’ll take the Angels in a relatively low-scoring game.