The Los Angeles Angels (33-34) will host the Detroit Tigers (28-39) to begin a four-game series on Thursday, representing the first action between these American League squads since 2019. The long wait is over — they split that 2019 series 3-3, for what it’s worth — and boy, are we in for a good one to kick things off this season. Matt Manning, Detroit’s top pitching prospect, makes his MLB debut across from Los Angeles’s Shohei Ohtani, whose two-way excellence has him in the thick of the AL MVP race.
Free Picks: Los Angeles Angels vs Detroit Tigers
Tigers, Angels present lopsided matchup — but one to watch regardless
Tigers fans, grab your coffee. Baseball fans alike, grab your popcorn. Thursday’s game in Los Angeles might be a bit of a late start for East Coasters (9:38 p.m. ET), but it promises to be one worth staying up for.
Detroit has promoted its top pitching prospect, Matt Manning, to make his MLB debut opposite L.A’s two-way star, Shohei Ohtani. Manning, who was the ninth overall pick when the Tigers drafted him out of high school in 2016, has steadily climbed through the organization in the past five years. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has touched 100 mph, but his fastball typically lives in the mid-to-upper-90s.
Manning and the Tigers are pretty hefty money line underdogs (+185 at 10Bet) among Thursday’s MLB picks, which is understandable given that he’s an unknown quantity and the Tigers have been mostly a nightmare this season. The Angels have been mediocre, but with Ohtani on the mound they’re in good shape as commanding -238 favorites (10Bet).
Sometimes it’s to a pitcher’s advantage when he hasn’t seen a team before. Perhaps that’ll be true for Manning, but he also has the added challenge of facing a top-notch pro lineup for the very first time — coming off a start to his minor league season that’s been less than palatable.
Through seven starts in Triple-A, Manning has an 8.07 ERA, with 11 home runs allowed in 32 1/3 innings. His career ERA in the minors is 3.49, with an 11.0 strikeouts-per-nine rate. So the hope is that his small sample this year is just an anomaly. But it’s worth noting that he’s not exactly riding a hot streak as he arrives in the big leagues.
On the other side, Ohtani is the once-in-a-generation player who can deal damage from the mound and the plate. He ranks near the top of the majors in home runs (18, behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 22), while also posting a 2.85 ERA in 47 1/3 innings. Ohtani typically hits on days that he pitches, and that hasn’t proven to be a distraction: In his last start, on June 11, Ohtani allowed two runs in five innings while going 2-for-4 with two doubles.
It’d be tough to beat that kind of production, and I don’t think the Tigers will be able to. The problem, though, is that L.A. offers truly underwhelming value on the money line. Go with them, by all means, but a rare -1.5 run line (+100 10Bet) wager might be the right play for this BetPicks prediction instead.
- Los Angeles is 7-3 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in nine of the Angels’ past 10 games
- Detroit is 5-5 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in five of the Tigers’ past seven games
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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).