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Clear reason to back the home team

Two of the top teams in the American League meet tonight when the Los Angeles Angels play host to the Toronto Blue Jays to start a four-game series. This matchup has no shortage of superstars. 

On the bump to start the series is Hyun Jin Ryu for Toronto and do-everything Angels star Shohei Ohtani. There are a couple bets worth making, with all odds courtesy of BetMGM.

Angels vs. Blue Jays picks (9:38 PM ET, Fox Sports West)

OVER 7.5 runs (-105)

Ohtani on the mound isn’t a great start for the over, but that’s balanced out by Ryu and his 6.00 ERA this season. Ryu has only four starts to his name thus far, totaling 18.0 IP. He got through the sixth inning in his last outing against the Cincinnati Reds without giving up a run, but let’s be honest – it’s the Reds we’re talking about. 

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The Reds entered Thursday the third-lowest batting average in the MLB, hitting only .216 on the season with 167 total runs scored, which ranks 23rd out of 30 big league teams. Ryu conquering them isn’t exactly a tremendous feat — even if they hung 20 on the Cubs in an afternoon matchup.

Hyun Jin Ryu pulled from game.
Hyun Jin Ryu is relieved in the fifth inning on May 14 against the Rays.
Getty Images

In his other three starts this year, Ryu has failed to throw more than 4.2 innings, hasn’t thrown more than four strikeouts in a game this year, is averaging 10.5 hits per nine innings and has a WHIP of 1.333. Against a potent Angels lineup that has scored the fourth-most runs this season while featuring a red-hot Mike Trout, Ryu could be in trouble.

On the opposite side, Ohtani is a superstar, but the Angles bullpen isn’t exactly dominant – L.A. relievers have a combined ERA of 3.86, which ranks 12th-worst in the majors. They have also surrendered 22 home runs this season, sixth-most. The Blue Jays are capable of turning on the offense, and on a warm evening with the wind blowing out to left center in California, the runs could come in bunches tonight.

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Angels -1.5 (+125)

Piggy-backing on a lot of the information above, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the Angels can get out to an early lead in this game. Getting plus money for the Angels to win by two runs at home is a bet that I’m personally going to make.

The Angels are 12-4 straight-up in their last 16 home games. The total has gone over in four of the Angels’ last five games against Toronto. It also helps that the Angels are strong against left-handers, of which Ryu is one. Looking simply at Mike Trout as an example, the MVP outfielder has a .455 batting average, .909 slugging percentage, and a 1.500 OPS against southpaws this year. 

I don’t think Ryu makes it out of the fifth inning tonight, and with a scorching hot home team getting plus money to cover against a pitcher that has struggled this season, I’m more than happy to make that bet.