Rangers at Angels MLB Pick for April 4
Following a disastrous 1-5 road trip to begin the season, the Los Angeles Angels will finally return to Orange County for their home opener on Thursday evening, where they’ll take on the Texas Rangers. The Angels dropped 3 of 4 games in the opening weekend of the season in Oakland before being swept in a 2-game set in Seattle earlier this week.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have gotten off to a surprising 4-2 start. Most have Texas tabbed as the worst team in the AL West this season, but the Rangers managed to win both of their opening series against the Cubs and Astros. That’s no small feat, as some believe the Cubs and Astros are legitimate World Series contenders this season.
Nobody is going to take a week’s worth of games as evidence that the Rangers are suddenly dark horse contenders themselves, but there is reason to believe this team could be better than the preseason odds may have indicated.
|2019 ATR Home||5-1-0||0-0-0|
|2019 ATR Away||0-0-0||3-3-0|
|2019 O/U Home||4-2-0||0-0-0|
|2019 O/U Away||0-0-0||0-6-0|
Halos’ Lack of Pop
The Angels have a fairly deep lineup full of capable hitters, though they are down a couple of their most potent bats right now. Both Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani are on the injured list to begin the season. Obviously, that puts a damper on things. The two mashers combined to hit 52 home runs a season ago, so their absence certainly puts a dent in things.
Matt Harvey will toe the rubber for the Halos tonight. Harvey was decent in his team debut last week, as he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits in 6 innings of work. Harvey was a high-velo, big-strikeout right-hander during his early years with the Mets, but injuries have sapped some of that electricity.
Still, after being traded from the Mets to the Reds last season, he was a respectable enough pitcher. He’s nowhere near the Cy Young type he was before, but the Angels are optimistic that he can give them some solid innings here. He had a 19.8 percent strikeout rate overall last season, which is about average.
He’ll have to deal with a Ranger lineup full of lefties, which isn’t ideal. Harvey yielded a wOBA of .341 to left-handed hitters in 2018, which is woeful. He allowed 27 homers in all last season, with 17 of those coming off the bats of righties, as well. Nomar Mazara, Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor could give him some trouble in this spot.
The Angel bats have combined to hit just 1 home run through their first 6 games, which is almost a remarkably bad accomplishment. Kole Calhoun is the lone Halo to have hit one over the wall thus far, though you can bet Mike Trout and co. will get it going eventually.
The Rangers completely overhauled their rotation over the winter, with one of the new faces being Edinson Volquez. Volquez initially came up through the Texas organization before ultimately being shipped to Cincinnati in the deal that brought former MVP Josh Hamilton to Texas.
Volquez missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, so he was always going to be a bit of a wild card. The right-hander struggled in his 2019 debut, as the Cubs touched him up to the tune of 4 runs on 6 hits in 4 innings of work. He walked 4 while striking out 3, as well.
Like Harvey, Volquez used to be a big-time strikeout pitcher, but that ability has waned in his later years. Volquez posted a 20.4 percent strikeout rate in 2017 when he was with the Marlins, but his walk rate was also way up over 13 percent. If he’s not going to be able to rein in the walks, he could be in for quite the rough season.
He does get a park upgrade going into Anaheim tonight, which is a far more favorable setting for pitchers than his home ballpark. He should also benefit from the relative weakness of the aforementioned Angels lineup. Other than Trout, there isn’t much to fear in this group right now.
As for the Texas bats, the Rangers picked up some timely hits in their series win over the Astros rather than simply slugging their way to victory. The Rangers were among the league leaders in home runs a season ago, and with most of those same hitters back, we can likely expect a similar showing this season.
I like Texas here. Harvey may be able to enjoy a bounce-back season with the Angels, but his biggest weakness happens to be the strength of the Rangers’ lineup. He’s going to have a hard time navigating Texas’ stacked lineup full of left-handed hitters in this spot, so I’m expecting the Rangers to be able to put some runs on the board here.
Putting runs on the board has been a problem for Los Angeles. While I doubt their extreme struggles continue for much longer, it’s hard to see how this team looks all that imposing with Trout surrounded by a bunch of nobodies. Texas as a Vegas underdog here has been a theme early in the season, and they’ve made it pay off, as evidenced by their impressive 5-1-0 record against the runline so far.
Give me the Rangers on the moneyline at +120. I think that makes for a decently safe bet with favorable odds.
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