After the Los Angeles Angels nabbed game one of this key AL West series with a late-inning rally on Monday night, the Houston Astros look to get back to .500 with a win on Tuesday. First pitch from Angel Stadium is set for 9:38 p.m. ET. It’s a star-studded matchup on the mound, as Framber Valdez (2-4, 2.60 ERA) goes for Houston while AL Cy Young and MVP candidate Shohei Ohtani (4-0, 2.54) pitches for L.A.
The Angels check in as -140 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Astros are +120 underdogs. The run total is set at 8.
Astros-Angels picks: Tuesday, May 9
Day to day: OF Michael Brantley (shoulder)
Out: SP Luis Garcia (elbow), SP Jose Urquidy (shoulder), 2B Jose Altuve (thumb), RP Parker Mushinski (back), SP Lance McCullers Jr. (forearm)
Out: C Max Stassi (hip, personal), 1B Jared Walsh (head), RP Aaron Loup (hamstring), RP Austin Warren (elbow), RP Jose Quijada (elbow)
Framber Valdez vs. Shohei Ohtani
Valdez is among the most consistent performers around — he’s going to give the Astros length (at least six innings in all but one of his starts), plenty of ground balls and just enough command issues to create some chaos on the basepaths. The lefty has yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start this season, with six innings of two-run ball against the San Francisco Giants last time out, and his power sinker should once again at least keep Houston competitive.
Ohtani’s hit a little bit of a rough patch on the mound recently, giving up nine combined runs over his last two starts. (Of course, this is Ohtani we’re talking about, so that “rough patch” still includes 21 strikeouts in just 11 innings.) The main culprit has been the long ball, as four poorly-timed homers accounted for just about all of the damage. If Ohtani can avoid that one big mistake, he’s about as unhittable as they come, with his splitter producing a frankly ridiculous 56.3 percent whiff rate.
The Astros offense has struggled all year, especially against righties, and it’s hard to envision that changing much against Ohtani. Valdez is among the best bets for a quality start around, so the odds are pretty good that this game will get to the late innings with five or six runs on the board at most. With two solid bullpens that rank seventh and eighth respectively in ERA, I’m taking the under tonight.
Pick: Under 8
I just don’t think Houston will find a way to scratch across enough runs against Ohtani, while Valdez’s command issues will eventually get him into trouble against an Angels lineup full of dangerous right-handed hitters.