Right now, we’re on a heater. We’ve got “rizz” as the kids might say. I definitely used that right. Don’t look it up. After a 2-0 night on Thursday, we’re sitting at 13-4 on articles plays dating back to May 11. That brings our record to 30-18 (+13.9u) for the season as a whole. Exciting stuff!
Let’s dive into more picks and youth culture below.
Allow me to point out the elephant in the room: The Angels don’t win games against the Astros. They’ve won only 27 of their last 86 meetings. Heck, for a long time, Los Angeles also didn’t win games with Ohtani pitching — hence the birth of the now famous Tungsten Arm O’Doyle tweet. But this season has been different. The Angels are 8-2 in Ohtani’s last 10 starts. As they should be. The right-hander has been amazing on the mound in 2023, maintaining a 2.87 xERA with a AL-high 35.0% strikeout rate. Most days of the week, Ohtani is easily the best pitcher in any matchup.
It’s not so easy tonight, though. Framber Valdez is incredible in his own right, a true launch angle savant. However, Valdez’s 2.38 ERA is only somewhat validated by a 4.01 xERA. The lefty is also giving up a career-high 8.9% opponent barrel rate. The cracks in the foundation are microscopic, but they are still there. I expect that Los Angeles’ lineup will be able to have some success against the southpaw on Friday, as the Angels are in possession of a 120 wRC+ when facing LHPs. That’s the fourth-highest mark in baseball.
In general, the Giants have been at their best in 2023 when facing a right-handed pitcher. San Francisco sports a 109 wRC+ within the split, in comparison to a 92 wRC+ when opposed by a left-hander. The main reason for this? The Giants happen to employ more left-handed bats than the average team and Gabe Kapler utilizes platoons about as well as any manager not named Kevin Cash. San Francisco enters play on Friday with the eighth-most left-on-right plate appearances in MLB, with said LHBs compiling a noteworthy 120 wRC+ in those 850 opportunities.
This is of extra importance this evening due to the presence of Dean Kremer. The 27-year-old has been extremely lucky through his 11 starts, with a 6.46 xERA sitting nearly two full-runs higher than his actual ERA of 4.58. Even with the good fortune, Kremer is still being absolutely crushed by lefty bats, as evidenced by a .336/.385/.496 slash line. In fact, among the 89 pitchers to face at least 75 LHBs in 2023, Kremer’s .425 expected wOBA within the split is the second-highest mark behind only his recently demoted teammate Grayson Rodriguez. Look for the Giants to score early and often.
It would be an understatement to call Soto red-hot at the moment. Going back to the beginning of May, Soto is slashing .328/.494/.641 with a .313 ISO and a 207 wRC+ in his 85 plate appearances against right-handed pitching. For the purposes of this prop, Soto’s amazing on-base skills are actually somewhat of a deterrent, yet I can not get over how great a matchup he’ll draw on Friday evening.
Things have not gone well for Jameson Taillon in 2023. Even setting the injury aside, the veteran RHP has pitched to a robust 8.04 ERA across his eight appearances, a figure which balloons to an 11.30 ERA specifically in Taillon’s past four starts. As you might anticipate, it’s been left-handed hitters that have given Taillon the most trouble, as the 31-year-old has surrendered a .667 slugging percentage and .469 wOBA within the split. That’s a dangerous way to live when Soto is in the batter’s box.
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