Shohei Ohtani Getty Los Angeles Angels
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All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Astros at Angels, 9:38 p.m. | TV: MLB Network

  • Key Trend: Ohtani has a lower strikeout rate after having at least six days between starts.
  • The Pick: Shohei Ohtani Under 6.5 Strikeouts (-111)

Shohei Ohtani is the best baseball player alive and maybe the greatest who has ever lived. Let's bet against him! That seems like a brilliant, reasonable thing to do, and there's absolutely no way it would ever backfire on us.

Seriously, I promise that a week off of sports has not caused me to lose my mind. Instead, I see an opportunity we can take advantage of with this matchup and the game's timing. Ohtani has not pitched since July 4, 10 days ago. Now, on the surface, that means he's rested. Yes, he went to the All-Star Game, but he did not pitch in the game and only had two at-bats before calling it a night. But while rest is good for us, during Ohtani's career as a pitcher, it hasn't been great for his results.

Ohtani has made 31 starts on the standard five days of rest in his career. He's posted an ERA of 2.48 in those starts and struck out 32.3% of the hitters he's faced. He's made even more starts on longer rest. There have been 48 times Ohtani has toed the rubber with at least six days of rest, and his ERA in those starts is 3.54, and his strikeout rate drops to 30.4%. Both of those numbers are still phenomenal, but the dip is real, and the dip is what we're looking to take advantage of.

As for the matchup, the Astros are one of the most difficult teams to strike out in baseball. Their team strikeout rate of 20.6% is the fourth-best in MLB. In two starts against the Astros this season, Ohtani has a strikeout rate of 23.2%, and five of his 13 strikeouts have been of Astros catcher Martin Maldonado.

As long as Maldonado doesn't get five at-bats against Ohtani tonight, I feel pretty good about Ohtani struggling to surpass the total of 6.5.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you're looking for a more traditional play in this one, the Projection Model has two B-graded plays on the money line and run line.

💰The Picks

Matt Olson Getty Atlanta Braves
Getty Images


White Sox at Braves, 7:20 p.m | TV: ESPN+

The Pick: Braves -1.5 (-140) -- As mentioned, I'm looking forward to the White Sox game tonight, even if I expect that feeling to fade quickly. I did not mention that one reason I believe the feeling will fade is the team's opponent tonight. In layman's terms, White Sox very bad, Braves very good.

The White Sox are sending Michael Kopech to the mound for the first time since June 27, when he showed signs of fatigue, and the team wanted to give him a break. He'll be welcomed back by a Braves offense that ranks first in baseball by a wide margin against righties in home run rate and wOBA and second in run rate. All of which is terrible news for Kopech, who has a home run rate against that's 51% above the league average. I didn't say better than I said above. If you're a righty who allows a lot of loud, flyball contact, Atlanta is not the team you want to see. Combine all that with an anemic White Sox offense, and the Braves could run away with this one tonight.

Tigers at Mariners, 10:10 p.m | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Mariners F5 (-170) -- 
We've got ourselves an unintentional theme tonight involving starters returning from long layoffs. Detroit starter Eduardo Rodriguez missed June with an odd injury finger on his throwing hand. He was having an excellent season before the injury, posting an ERA of 2.13 in 11 starts for a bad Tigers team. He returned to make one start before the All-Star break and got batted around by an even worse Oakland team.

Rodriguez lasted only four innings and allowed five runs. He threw a lot more sliders in the game than he had been prior and cut way back on cutters and changeups. Simple math suggests the finger injury is playing a part in the change. It was not effective, as there's a reason Rodriguez doesn't rely on his slider often. It's not great! If that's again the case tonight, against a Seattle team that handles lefties well and has Luis Castillo (2.85 ERA in 107.1 innings) starting, there's a good chance the Mariners jump on the Tigers early.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine MMA expert Daniel Vithlani has shared all his favorite bets for Saturday's UFC card.