Set your alarms for 11:20AM because every game in this series starts then. Three games, and all are day games at Wrigley field - just like in the olden days. What are the odds the Angels can play well on the road now that they swept the Brewers at home? We will know soon.
“Could someone please remind the Cubs pitching staff that the 2019 season has started?
Cubs pitchers have been mostly lousy this year, though the bullpen is now on a scoreless streak of 15⅔ innings (and even so, the bullpen’s ERA is 6.34). Starting pitching, apart from Jon Lester (who’s now on the injured list after hurting himself running the bases), has been almost completely awful. They’ve allowed the most runs in the National League.
On the other hand, the offense has been great. Entering Thursday’s game the Cubs are second in the N.L. in runs, BA and OBP and third in SLG and OPS. Unexpectedly, Jason Heyward has been at the forefront of this, hitting .371/.452/.714 with four home runs, half as many HR as he hit all last year.
All of this has resulted in a 3-8 record with a run differential of -2, which just makes me go ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Over the weekend, you will see... well, we’re not quite sure who the Cubs’ starting pitchers will be. The team has no one listed yet as a probable starter, though it’s likely Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendricks should be in there somewhere. It’s been said former Angel Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday, but he threw 27 pitches in relief Wednesday, so again... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Then there’s the weather, which will be much colder than Angels players are used to, plus Sunday looks like a washout. Welcome to Chicago in April!
Lastly, we’d like to thank Tommy La Stella for almost singlehandedly crushing the Brewers. You’ll love TLS, he’s a lot of fun.
Know your foe:
Cubs - who’s hot (Last 7 Days):
Jason Heyward .650 OBP, 4 HR, 2 SB, 6 BB, 6 RBI
Ben Zobrist .474 OBP, 2 RBI
(L)Tyler Skaggs (2.45 ERA) v. (L)Cole Hamels (5.73 ERA)
Friday, April 12th @ 11:20AM
Pitcher vs. Batters
In his first time out, Tyler Skaggs was saddled with a loss despite only giving up 2 runs. Of course it also took him 86 pitches to get through 4.2 innings. He fared much better against the Rangers with 6.1 innings, 101 pitches (70% strikes), and just 1 run allowed. He hasn’t faced the Cubs in recent years and this will be his first start at Wrigley.
Cole Hamels will probably start this game, probably. Since the Cubs rotation is a bit of a mess, no official announcement has been made as to who will start any of these games. Hamels has been rough on the Angels the last few years because you know - he’s a lefty. IN 41 IP over 2017-2018, Hamels held the Angels to 11 runs, good for a 2.41 ERA. Jonathan Lucroy has a .480 OBP against Hamels in 21 ABs and Mike Trout has a .414 OBP in 23 ABs. The rest of the guys? Not so great.
(R)Chris Stratton (4.70 ERA) v. (R)Kyle Hendricks (6.48 ERA)
Saturday, April 13th @ 11:20AM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Chris Stratton is still here and Jaime Barria (who helped win Wednesday’s game is not. Stratton already has negative WAR and a 2.040 WHIP in his two starts. He hasn’t really looked that good so far and perhaps his saving grace is that he notched a win against the Cubs last May. Expect some balls to go out of the park in this one, however.
Kyle Hendricks might start this game. If he does, don’t expect Justin Bour to get out of his slump (1 for 14 v. Hendricks). Cozart has had the best luck against Hendricks so maybe that will bode well for him. Hendicks has been pretty awful in 2 starts with 18 hits 11 runs (6 earned), and 3 home runs allowed over 8.1 innings.
(R)Trevor Cahill (4.07 ERA) v. (R)Tyler Chatwood (6.00 ERA)
Sunday, April 14th @ 11:20AM
Pitcher vs. Batters
Trevor Cahill is perhaps about the only off-season pickup I thought was a potential deal. So far he hasn’t disappointed and has been stead while flashing some plus pitches. If his first 3 games are any inclination, Cahill could toss 6 innings, around 90 pitches, and perhaps come away with a quality start. But this is hungry Cubs team who can still do some damage offensively.
Tyler Chatwood hasn’t faced Angels hitters all that much with the exception of Justin Upton who has 9 ABs against him. The rest of the team has a combined 15 ABs and most of the current roster hasn’t faced Chatwood before. Chatwood is iffy to start this game and if he did, it would be his first start fo 2019. He’s tossed 6 innings in 4 relief appearances, allowing 4 runs and 6 hits. He hasn’t thrown over 36 pitches so I’d expect a bullpen game if he makes the start.
Overall Verdict: The Angels offense picked up a bit against the Brewers and they could use that against a Chicago team that has given up 53 runs in their first 8 games of April. The Cubs offense has been strong though with 38 runs in their last 5 games so get ready for some runs in this series. The teams on paper seem fairly evenly matched in terms of offense but the Angels certainly have a pitching advantage. Rain is forecast for Sunday which could make this 3 game series turn into 2.
Current Standings (Thursday @ 4PM)
(Pitch tracking data from baseballsavant.mlb.com)
(Stats vs. current roster from espn.com)