White Sox vs. Angels Odds
|White Sox Odds||+105|
|Time||Sunday, 8:37 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via William Hill|
Shohei Ohtani, supposedly fully healthy, makes his return to the mound on Sunday Night Baseball for the whole world to see.
Oh, and he’s going to hit too.
Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels face the Chicago White Sox, who are hoping Dylan Cease begins 2021 by building off what appeared to be a better second season in the show, at least according to his ERA.
Let’s dig in and see if there’s betting value on Ohtani and the Halos in this series finale.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox were second in MLB last season with an .887 OPS against left-handed pitching, but they were just 13th against righties at .749. That is while registering the second-most at-bats against right-handed pitching (1,605).
While Eloy Jiménez hits right-handed, his absence will not help that trend. The addition of rookie Andrew Vaughn into the lineup will definitely help, but it’s fair to assume he’d be the full-time designated hitter if Jiménez was healthy.
On the mound for the South Siders will be Cease, who had a shaky 2019 introduction to the big leagues before settling in for a 4.01 ERA over 12 starts in 2020.
Cease’s 6.36 FIP last season, though, indicated he was fortunate to have an ERA that low. Control was still a massive concern for Cease last season. After walking 35 in 73 innings in 2019, he awarded 34 free passes in just 58 1/3 innings in 2020. While his WHIP went down in his second season, his home runs and walks allowed per nine innings went up, and his strikeouts per nine innings went down.
There’s reason to believe that Cease is in for a dose of reality in 2021, unless he can use those 26 career starts to improve. I’ll believe in the improvement when we see it.
Los Angeles Angels
We really don’t have much to go off in terms of Ohtani on the mound. He made two starts last season that lasted only 1 2/3 innings, and his ERA was 37.80 in those.
Back in 2018, Ohtani was poised to take MLB by storm. He had a 3.31 ERA and 3.57 FIP in 10 starts (51 1/3 innings) with 11 strikeouts per nine innings. In addition to that, his OPS was .925 that year.
Since then, Tommy John surgery and other arm injuries have kept the two-way sensation from fulfilling his incredible potential.
Ohtani’s spring numbers aren’t pretty. He had a 15.23 ERA over six starts, lasting just 13 innings. He got pounded in his last start at Dodger Stadium last Monday and was removed after facing just 16 batters because of a blister.
The only way Ohtani pitches anywhere close to what would be considered a normal-length start is if he comes out and dominates, which every baseball fan in the world (except for White Sox faithful for this night only) is hoping for. Otherwise, I expect a start that lasts four or five innings, assuming everything goes to plan.
At the plate, the Angels won’t even have to miss Ohtani’s bat, apparently. Manager Joe Maddon told reporters on Saturday that his Sunday starter will also be in the lineup for the finale. That may create a few issues for Maddon in managing his pitching staff the rest of the game, but we’re all here for it, as the kids would say.
White Sox-Angels Pick
This should not be so close to a pick’em, in my mind, given Cease’s deceiving 2020 and the White Sox’s inability to hit right-handed pitching. I have more faith in Ohtani than Cease, as well, and I have faith in Maddon to navigate the potential lineup issues that will come with a hitting Ohtani.
I’ll take the Angels as slight favorites to close this series out with a win.
Pick: Angels -115
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