After winning their first series of the year, the Cubs are hoping to keep the momentum going against the Angels. Fresh off of their sweep of the Brewers, the Angels come into to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs. It’s the first time the two teams have met since the 2016 season.
Say, does anyone remember who won the World Series in 2016? I feel like people are always forgetting.
By virtue of their three-game winning streak, the Angels sit a game above .500. While it’s unlikely they’ll dethrone the powerhouse Houston Astros, they have at least some hopes of competing for a Wild Card in what has been a topsy-turvy AL West.
Usually fueled by the brilliance of future Hall of Famer Mike Trout, the Angels lineup has recently been reliant instead on former Cub and bounce house aficionado Tommy La Stella. The diminutive infielder has hit three home runs this season, all three of which came against the Brewers this past weekend. Time will tell if 3 AM is truly a double agent and decides to dial it back against his friends in blue pinstripes this weekend.
Trout’s status is still up in the air for this weekend following a groin injury, which is a bit of a tough spot for Cubs fans. Trout and the Angels very rarely come to Wrigley Field so it is always a bit of a treat to get to see him in the friendly confines, but the Cubs will undoubtedly improve their odds of winning facing an Angels lineup without him.
An Angels lineup without Trout isn’t one that strikes much fear into opponents. With fellow phenomenon Shohei Ohtani also out until the end of this month following Tommy John surgery, the Angels lack star power. Their current leaders in OPS+ among regulars are Brian Goodwin, La Stella, and Tommy Fletcher. The ghost of Albert Pujols is always looming, but it’s not exactly a murderers’ row.
The Angels’ rotation is also a bit of an island of misfit toys. Former Cubs Trevor Cahill and Felix Peña have each made three starts this year, though the Cubs will only face one of them this weekend. Cahill is off to a decent start this year after having a solid campaign for the A’s in 2018.
The Halos’ bullpen has been a strength this year, led by closer Cody Allen. Several Angels relievers have been able to rack up strikeouts so far in 2019, with Cam Bedrosian, Hansel Robles, and Ty Buttrey all racking up at least 10 K/9 so far.
The Cubs have taken baby steps forward over the last two series and the Angels, especially without Trout, represent a good opportunity to keep that momentum going.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, April 12 at 1:20pm on NBC Sports Chicago
- Saturday, April 13 at 1:20pm on ABC-7
- Sunday, April 14 at 1:20pm on WGN
What to Watch For
- The Angels’ bullpen has been impressive so far, but lacks a shutdown lefty. Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and the suddenly streaking Jason Heyward will present matchup difficulties for manager Brad Ausmus.
- Speaking of Heyward, he sure has been red hot. He has teased us before, but this is probably his most impressive stretch as a Cub. With four home runs, Heyward has already reached the halfway mark of his 2018 totals and will look to keep it going against this weekend.
- Tyler Chatwood will make his first start for the Cubs since late in the 2018 season. Chatwood was infamously wild last year has shown only marginal improvements in his control this season. If the Cubs can get even three or four decent innings out of Chatwood, they’d have to consider that a success.
- With Victor Caratini out following a hamate fracture, expect Iowa Cubs regular Taylor Davis to take over as the backup catcher, at least in the short term. Caratini had been catching Hamels regularly, but Willson Contreras will catch on Friday. It’ll be interesting to see if Davis gets a chance to catch either Hendricks or Chatwood.