The Los Angeles Angels hope to make a statement when they host the Houston Astros for a three-game series starting Monday night. The Angels took two of three in a series in Houston last month but continue to stare up at the Astros in the AL West standings. The Houston Astros are -130 over the Los Angeles Angels in this battle of the top two teams in the American League West.
The Astros have not been quite as dominant as they were last season on their way to becoming world champions. Nevertheless, they are 10 games over .500 and have won five of their last six games, helping them maintain a one-game lead over the Angels in the division.
The Angels, meanwhile, have scuffled over the past week or so after holding the division lead for much of April. Los Angeles split a four-game series with the Twins over the weekend after splitting a two-game set with the Rockies midweek. Of course, a home series against the Astros will give them a chance to at least pull even with Houston atop the AL West.
All We Do Is Win
Lance McCullers Jr. will take the mound for Houston Monday night. Outside of one rough outing against the Twins, McCullers has returned to the all-star form he had the first half of last season. In eight starts, he’s 5-1 with a 3.72 ERA. To be fair, he’s hurt himself with walks in his last two starts, but he’s still managed to deliver quality starts for the Astros.
On top of his recent success, McCullers also has great career numbers against most of the Angels top hitters. Mike Trout is just 2 for 17 with eight strikeouts against McCullers in his career. Both Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun are only 4 for 22 against the young righty. Andrelton Simmons is only 2 for 13 against McCullers. While the Angels have one of the best lineups in the American League, if McCullers can neutralize Trout, Pujols, and Simmons, he’ll have a great chance to keep the Angels in check all night.
On the Way Back
Opposing McCullers for the Angels will be lefty Andrew Heaney. After making a total of six starts the past two seasons because of Tommy John surgery, Heaney has already made five starts in 2018. The first couple of starts were rough for Heaney, which explains explain his 4.78 ERA. However, over his last three starts, he’s allowed five runs (four earned) over 17 innings, so things are definitely moving in the right direction for him.
Of course, facing Houston’s lineup is no easy task. Heaney has good numbers against most of the Astros hitters, although none of them have more than five career at-bats against the lefty. Heaney and the Angels may catch a break with George Springer struggling with an injury. But with the infield trio of Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman, the Astros are capable of making life difficult for any pitcher.
Staying on Top
With a win Monday night, the Angels can pull even with the Astros for first place in the division. But the Halos face an uphill battle against McCullers. He’s been so dominant against the Los Angeles hitters that it’s tough to envision that changing. Bet the Houston Astros -130 over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.