The Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics don't move the needle as much as other major California sports franchises, but their Opening Day duel at the dawn of the 2020 MLB season deserves attention.
Parity hasn't been prevalent in baseball for several years now, and the Dodgers definitely outshine these clubs in the Golden State. However, with a swift 60-game schedule, this could be a golden opportunity for the Angels to at long last capitalize on Mike Trout's prime — or for the perpetual underdog A's to show "Moneyball" can win championships.
Even for baseball skeptics, this opener is worth checking out on national TV. Enjoy the ballgame even more through betting, and as a guide, use our preview, featuring wagers analysis and a breakdown of the best odds.
Date: Friday, July 24
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Angels 43%; Athletics 58%
Spread: LAA +1.5 (-160); OAK -1.5 (+145)
Moneyline: LAA +130; OAK -139
Unfortunately for the Angels faithful, they'll have to wait for a potential savior to make his debut. Prized free-agent acquisition Anthony Rendon, who was key in the Nationals' World Series run last year, is out due to a tight oblique, per The Orange County Register's Jeff Fletcher.
Despite an 80-game suspension in 2019 due to a failed drug test, Frankie Montas won out to be the starting pitcher for the A's. New Angels manager Joe Maddon is trotting out Andrew Heaney, who has his work cut out against Oakland's explosive lineup.
39.9 vs. 26.8: To start off, these stats are the respective numbers for the A's and Angels in Ultimate Zone Rating this past season. Oakland led baseball in the category, while L.A. was fourth, showing how defensively sound both these clubs are.
60.4 vs. 53.9: These figures are weighted Runs Above Average totals from 2019 for Trout first, and for the A's two best hitters Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman, combined.
7.35 vs. -4.10: These last dueling figures are from last season, highlighting the Win Probability Added for the two teams. It's clear Oakland has a decisive upper hand here.
Given how good the Astros have been as three-time reigning AL West champions — sign-stealing scandal notwithstanding — it's all the more vital for the Angels and A's to get some early-season momentum.
While the visitors are lacking a big bat in 2019's RBI leader Rendon, they do still have Trout, not to mention two-way extraordinaire Shohei Ohtani, who'll serve as a dangerous designated hitter when he's not pitching.
But with Semien, Chapman and other sluggers in Matt Olson and Mark Canha in the fold, Oakland has way too much firepower on paper for a pitcher of Heaney's caliber to handle. Heaney has logged a 4-6 record and 4.91 ERA last year, which doesn't inspire tons of confidence on the road.
If Montas was showing any ill effects from his lengthy hiatus from the mound, he wouldn't be on the bump to begin the 2020 campaign. The A's are giving the ball to a supremely talented thrower with a high-90s fastball and should like their chances.
If Rendon were in action for L.A. or the pitching matchup wasn't so lopsided, the Angels may have been road favorites. That's not the case, though. Expect bettors to lean on a rather generous A's -138 moneyline.
Oakland is a good bargain at +145 for the 1.5-run line as of this writing, so action should trend that way as well. The 8.5 total feels like a lot, but bear in mind the A's also have Khris Davis, who before a down 2019 campaign hit 133 homers over the prior three years.
There are just too many big bats coming from the home dugout, so wagers should skew toward the Over 8.5.
Note: Odds current as of 6:45 p.m. ET on Friday, July 24.
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