After three hard-fought wins over the weekend — all of which came by two runs or less — the Boston Red Sox look to finish off a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels in the annual Patriots’ Day game at Fenway Park. Per tradition, this is the earliest scheduled start of the MLB season, with first pitch set for 11:10 a.m. ET (all the better to help Bostonians catch the Boston Marathon).
Shohei Ohtani (2-0, 0.47 ERA) takes the hill for the Angels, while top prospect Brayan Bello makes his first start of the season for Boston. L.A. is currently a -155 favorite on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Red Sox are +135 underdogs. The run total is set at 8.
Angels-Red Sox picks: Monday, April 17th
Out: RP Ryan Tepera (shoulder), 1B Jared Walsh (headaches/insomnia), C Max Stassi (hip)
Out: OF Adam Duvall (wrist), SP James Paxton (hamstring), RP Chris Martin (shoulder), RP Joely Rodriguez (oblique)
Shohei Ohtani vs. Brayan Bello
Ohtani’s been, well, Shohei Ohtani on the mound so far this season. The numbers are eye-popping: 19 innings, one run, with four times as many strikeouts (24) as hits allowed (6). The walks have been an issue — Ohtani’s issued 12 free passes across his three starts — but given his track record we’re not too concerned. This will be the former MVP’s fifth start against Boston, as he boasts a 3-1 record with a 2.35 ERA in his career.
Long one of Boston’s most enticing pitching prospects, Bello finally made his MLB debut last season, and the results were mixed: a 4.71 ERA over 11 starts with 55 strikeouts in 57.1 innings. The righty throws gas, with a wicked boring four-seamer to go with a power sinker, but his shaky command too often gets him into trouble. Bello was ticketed for the Red Sox’ Opening Day rotation, but some forearm tightness early in spring caused the team to take it slow with the 23-year-old. He fired six innings of one-run ball in his final rehab start at Triple-A, so he seems ready to go.
Ohtani should be awfully hard to score on today, especially with the Angels looking to snap a losing streak and avoid the indignity of a four-game sweep. L.A.’s lineup, meanwhile, has been struggling recently, and as a righty-heavy group it’s particularly vulnerable to right-handed pitching. The Angels lead all of baseball in OPS against lefties at .895, but that number drops all the way down to .678 — 25th of 30 teams — against righties. Bello could have some early-season jitters, but we like this pitching matchup to keep the run total low.
Pick: Under 8
Bello is just a little too hard to trust multiple times through a lineup, especially in his first start of the season. Ohtani should be motivated to show out in a big spot on national TV, so we like the Halos in a close, low-scoring affair.