The Los Angeles Angels (61-65) somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again on Tuesday night, giving up three unearned runs in an eventual 4-3 loss in the series opener to the Cincinnati Reds (65-61). Now these two teams will wrap this series up in a Wednesday doubleheader, with Cincy lefty Andrew Abbott (8-3, 2.99 ERA) taking the mound against Shohei Ohtani (10-5, 3.17). First pitch of game one from Angel Stadium is set for 4:07 p.m. ET.
L.A.’s postseason hopes are officially on life support, as yesterday’s loss made it two in a row and seven of their last 10 to drop them a full 10 games behind the streaking Seattle Mariners for the third and final AL Wild Card spot. It was a badly-needed win for the Reds, who kept pace in the NL Wild Card chase and remain just a half-game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cincinnati will face those same D-backs in a huge series this weekend, while the Angels will head out east following today’s twin bill, starting with a three-game set against the Mets in New York.
The Angels enter as -170 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Reds at +142. The run total is set at 8.5.
Reds-Angels picks: Wednesday, August 23rd
Out: OF Stuart Fairchild (concussion), OF Jake Fraley (stress fracture in left fourth toe), INF Kevin Newman (left oblique strain), SP Ben Lively (right pectoral strain), 2B Jonathan India (left foot plantar fasciitis), C Curt Casali (left foot contusion), SP Nick Lodolo (left tibia stress reaction)
Out: 1B C.J. Cron (low back inflammation), SS Zach Neto (lower back inflammation), RP Chris Devenski (right hamstring strain), 3B Anthony Rendon (left shin contusion)
Andrew Abbott vs. Shohei Ohtani
Abbott got his August started on a rough note, coughing up six runs on nine hits and a whopping five walks over 5.2 innings against the Washington Nationals. He’s settled down since, though, allowing two runs in each of his last two outings, both wins. The rookie struck out nine over 5.2 frames against the Pirates, then held the Guardians to two runs on six hits over five innings last week. He’s cooled off a bit after a torrid start to his MLB career, but Abbott still boasts a full complement of above-average secondary pitches and big-time upside when he can stay in and around the strike zone.
After two weeks off from pitching due to what the team has called right arm fatigue, Ohtani will be back on the mound to make his third start this month. The electric righty has yet to allow an earned run in August, striking out five while allowing just three hits over six innings in a win over the Giants back on August 9. His command can come and go, and he’s almost certainly still not at 100 percent as he battles arm and hand issues, but Ohtani still has the most unhittable arsenal in the game — as evidenced by his league-best 5.855 hits per nine innings.
Yesterday’s game saw a 4-3 final, and with two dynamite pitchers on the mound this afternoon, I’m backing the under again. The Reds have the single highest K rate in the Majors against right-handed pitchers this month — which seems like a bad sign when going up against someone like Ohtani — while the Angels have the league’s third-highest K rate against lefties. Plus, neither team figures to be sending out its A lineup with another game still to be played later tonight.
Pick: Under 8.5
It’s always tough to be against the Angels when Ohtani’s starting, but we just don’t really know how much the AL MVP frontrunner will be able to give after two weeks off and battling a litany of minor injuries that have kept him from a full workload of late. Abbott, however, is a good bet to throw up five or six solid innings, and L.A. has just been finding ways to lose close games of late. With this much juice on the moneyline, I’m backing Cincy as road ‘dogs.