Cubs vs. Angels: Series Preview (4/12-4/14)


The Cubs kicked off the home portion of their schedule taking two out of three from the Pirates. Their first series win came from two shutouts as the pitching finally stabilized after a rocky start to 2019. Chicago now welcomes the Los Angeles Angels for a three-game inter-league affair.

The Halos are not expected to be good, but they have won five in a row including sweeping the Brewers last series. Star center fielder Mike Trout suffered a groin strain and his status for the series is uncertain. Former Cub Tommy La Stella has amazingly hit three homers in his last three games.

Jon Lester's hamstring injury means Tyler Chatwood will get a start on Sunday. Chatwood has shown somewhat better control from the bullpen, but it's still a question mark. Jason Heyward continues to look locked in at the plate, while Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber have scuffled the last week. Victor Caratini broke the hamate bone in his left hand and may miss six weeks.

The Cubs have won a series, the goal now is to do that consistently the rest of the season. If they could maybe win two games in a row too, that would be just great. It's the king of cliches to say win one game at a time. That being said, keep winning series and your back in business in no time flat.


Friday: 1:20 PM CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Saturday: 1:20 PM CT on ABC-7/670AM

Sunday: 1:20 PM CT on WGN/670AM



1. David Fletcher (R) LF
3. Albert Pujols (R) 1B
5. Taylor Ward (R) 3B
6. Kole Calhoun (L) RF
7. Zack Cozart (R) 2B
8. Peter Bourjos (R) CF
9. Tyler Skaggs (L) P


2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Javier Baez (R) SS
6. David Bote (R) 2B
7. Mark Zagunis (R) RF
8. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
9. Cole Hamels (L) P

Bullpen Usage



Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Tyler Skaggs: Tyler Skaggs has thrown 7,776 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2011 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (91mph) and Curve (75mph), also mixing in a Change (84mph).

His fourseam fastball is straight as an arrow, has essentially average velo and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers. His curve has an exceptional bite, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' curves and has slight glove-side movement. His change has surprising cut action, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and is slightly firmer than usual.

Sean's Note: Skaggs has only allowed three runs in 11 innings in 2019. He was good for the Angels last season with a 4.02 ERA in 125.1 innings. The left hander is much tougher on same-handed hitters. He strikes out hitters at an above average rate and walks hitters at a good 7.8 percent.

Chris Stratton: Chris Stratton has thrown 3,897 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2016 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, Spring Training and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (91mph) and Slider (84mph), also mixing in a Curve (77mph) and Change (85mph).

His fourseam fastball has less armside movement than typical, has some natural sinking action and has slightly below average velo. His slider is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders and has some two-plane movement. His curve has sweeping glove-side movement and results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves. His change is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' changeups and has some natural sink to it.

Sean's Note: The former Giant got shelled his first full MLB season, with a 5.09 ERA. This year hasn't started much better for the righty, with six runs allowed in just 8.1 innings. Left handed hitters crush him to the tune of a .288 average in 2018. He struck out a below average number of hitters last year.

Trevor Cahill: Trevor Cahill has thrown 22,752 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2008 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Sinker (91mph) and Curve using a Knuckle Curve grip (80mph), also mixing in a Fourseam Fastball (92mph), Change (84mph) and Slider (87mph). He also rarely throws a Cutter (90mph).

His sinker has some natural sinking action. His curve results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves, has a sharp downward bite, is slightly harder than usual and has slight glove-side movement. His fourseam fastball generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has some natural sinking action and has essentially average velo. His change dives down out of the zone and results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups. His slider is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders, has less than expected depth and has primarily 12-6 movement. His cutter generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' cutters, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' cutters, has surprisingly little cutting action and has slightly above average velo.

Sean's Note: The former Cub Cahill had a great year for Oakland in 2018. He gets a ton of ground balls and his changeup is one of the best in baseball. Homers are hard to hit against him, he only allowed 8 in 11o innings last year. Lefties hit him better than his fellow right-handers.



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  • It's too bad about caratini, he was really playing good.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I think the cubs are really screwed at 3rd catcher if Taylor Davis is supposed to be the solution also. Unfortunate Caratini was playing the best baseball of his career.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    The red sox released sandy leon a few weeks ago, I'd sign him.He's a great defensive and framing catcher but his bat is terrible.Leon is a better option than davis imo

  • In reply to bolla:

    Yup someone like that. I have a personal philosophy that when you're screwed at backup catcher then at least find a guy that can handle the position defensively while also handling all the nuances that come with being a catcher. David Ross won a ton of games for this team without contributing much with the bat. But I agree I think there are free agents that I'd easily take over Davis.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Unfortunately Leon was resigned by Boston to a minor league deal and assigned to AAA.

  • In reply to TC154:

    We shoulda just offered him or Rene Rivera a minor league deal. Maybe I’m too low on Davis but how in the heck is he the 3rd catcher it seems like catchers get hurt more

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Would it surprise you to learn that Davis was rated as one of the top pitch framers in the PCL last season and is highly respected for his game calling,? He just doesn't have a strong arm.

    He also has also hit above .290 three times and not finished with a K% above 14.1% in the past five years at AA/AAA.

    It took him a while to become a solid player both offensively and defensively, but that isn't unusual for a catcher.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks for the information Michael I trust your judgment knowing that you're keeping tabs on his development and game tape on a regular basis. For me as long as he can handle the staff and contribute with the bat then they can just use him with Quintana, Hamels, and Hendricks. Caratini isn't particularly effective controlling the run game either which is why I like Maddon's strategy of using him exclusively for those starters. I hope he does well he just has never been a guy that I had much confidence in at the ML level. I wasn't a big fan of his defense in the past he doesn't have the strongest arm nor is he the best athlete. I hope you're right I'm one of those fans that value defense from my backup catcher over offense for the most part

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    He's a placeholder for sure, as he lacks the arm on defense and doesn't have much power on offense, so his impact will be minimal. But in no way will Davis cost this team games. They can hide him against bad matchups, if there are any, and when he is in there you can expect some 1-for-4s and plenty of balls in play, and no glaring mistakes on defense.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Agreed. That's a tough injury for a guy that looked like he was going to have a bit of a breakout season. Who's next on the depth chart in Iowa? Davis?

  • Heyward just looks locked in this last week. OBP is stellar and he's definitely getting some lift on the batted balls so far this April.

    Any chance he looks more like the guy that we saw several years ago in Atlanta? Or at least the guy we saw in St Louis for a season?

  • I just came across a great interview/article on Ian Happ from Tommy Birch at the Des Moines Register:

    Sorry about that URL, that's what happened when I copied it. Anyway, Happ talks about cutting down on his strikeouts as the biggest hurdle to coming back up. What struck me though, and reinforces some opinions I've developed about him, is his attitude about the situation. No one likes being demoted, I get that, but he seems to take issue with the reasons behind it. It sounds like there are some serious attitude issues between him and the organization.

    I remember about a year ago someone was asking him about how his playing style wasn't quite the same fun-loving variety as many of his teammates. He said he needed to "play angry". That works for some players, but I get a sense with him there's more behind it than that. I hope he can straighten it out, because he's very talented. But I've seen many cases where a bad attitude can destroy one's ability to fully realize and develop natural talent.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    In my opinion, Happ's issue isn't attitude as much as it is that he simply isn't a good hitter. The Cubs have TOO many low batting average, high KO, big power guys. Sprinkle those guys in with low average low power guys like Almora and you are in for trouble.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    True. Happ, like so many other players, sacrificed some basic hitting techniques to adopt the launch-angle approach after he was drafted. It is a problem when you stack too many of them in the same order. But just listening to him talk sounds like he doesn't see a problem, and that friction between himself and management has reached a head.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    To me the thing with Happ is I just don’t see a position for him. Even negating his hitting pro or con, he just has never stood out anywhere they put him.
    If he winds up being a head case all he is doing is leading to be someone elses problem. Can you say “package deal”?

  • With Almora, Bote, Zagunis AND Schwarber all in the lineup, It is even more important that the "guys" like Bryant, Rizzo and Baez do well today.

  • Attaboy Willson I don’t want to get ahead of myself but he looks fantastic so far. And more good news mike trout is still in Anaheim and appears likely to miss this series

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Good news for the Cubs from a competitive standpoint, obviously, but I feel sorry for fans that don't get to see him play at Wrigley. But, I agree, great for our win probability.

  • In reply to BarleyPop: matter the outcomes I really wanted to see Trout play. I knew it was 50/50 since he was dinged but I’ve never seen him play more than highlights and sss....

  • That 1st inning is the perfect example on why Javy needs to stop trying to hit the unhittable turd pitches like Skaggs and all pitchers throw him. Skaggs WAS NOT challenging Javy. He played that at bat into a poor strikeout instead of taking the walk... should and could be 4-0. Gave away an out instead of taking the gimme...

    If you spend your time searching for turds, you'll never see the diamond that's right in front of you.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    he's now at .241 and is NOT passing the eye test. I said it before the season started that we very likely saw his career year last year and so far it's looking like he is going to be chasing those #'s all year. Bummer

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    12 games in sir.......only 12 games in....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Javy has a 36.2% strikeout rate in 58 PAs. The studies show that strikeout rate will stabilize in as little as 60 PA. I find it troubling that Javy's strikeout rate was the same in the month of September 2018 when he needed his best from him. His picked up right where he left off last season...

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I'm a lot more worried about Kris Bryant then Javy. Javy's practically gotten off to a slow start every single year of his career going back to his minor league days but he's proven to me that he has the type of hot streaks where his numbers rebound fast. Unlike Bryant also he's an elite defensive player whose bat doesn't carry most of his value. Javy may not match his MVP caliber numbers of last season but he's going to get his production in my eyes and he's going to always give the team his outstanding defense and versatility. KB on the other hand is usually a fast starter so to see him off to the worst start of his career when he hasn't performed to the high standards he's set since 2016 is concerning. The team needs him to get back to being the 4+ WAR player that he was coming into the big leagues.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    But if you extrapulate it over the full season he gives you 52 hrs and 130 don’t take that?

    It won’t go that way either way......he’ll be fine

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Javy's really on pace for 52 HRs and 130 RBIs??? Wow and that's with me feeling like he's in one of his ice cold stretches. I'd also add once again that he does this practically every year April is his worst career month he sucked in the minors even in April

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Well yea, in reality he why it’s kind of crazy to be doggin on him or anyone else really?

    We just beat the team that wiped out the Brewers 3 straight.....does that mean.....? You see what I’m getting at?

    Everybody needs to step back sometimes, put on Lee Elia’s rant and smile. Baseball is back! And baseball is gonna baseball.....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I think a lot of people (not even saying Saluki or others because I don't remember at this point) have been doubting Javy for years thinking his approach and swing are too out of control, blah, blah, blah). So the minute he struggles the masses are out to criticize the guy even though he's carrying a better OPS then KB and only 10 points below Rizzo. The facts are he can get away with that type of approach because quite simply he's one of the most naturally gifted players of this generation. Also simply because he has the best natural swing on this cubs roster he just swings at too many bad ones, but he clearly has the best overall zone coverage.

    Agreed glad it's baseball season and it's nice to see the pitching staff begin to stabilize. I can do without seeing Chatwood starting this Sunday lol, but hopefully the cubs can regain some ground entering a more favorabe stretch of their schedule.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    That's not how it works though. Strikeout rate stabilizes around 60 PA, HR rate around 170 PA. There is no rate for RBI due to the uncontrollable aspects of coming to bat with runners in scoring position, but I'll include RBIs in the following example.

    Last season Javy, after 16 games had 64 PA with and a 21.9% strikeout rate with 5 HR and 16 RBI. Extrapolate that and would you wanna put your money down on Javy hitting the 51 HR and 162 RBI he was on pace for (just like the 52/130 rate you're excited he's on now)?

    Fast-forward to 41 games deep (about a quarter of the season) into 2018 when Javy had 173 PA with a strikeout rate of 23.1% with 10 HR and 37 RBI, now on pace for 40 HR and 147 RBI. So the study says we could expect Javy to keep that pace of HR. Even further, he was on pace for 684 PA and 159 strike outs. Now lets look at the numbers again through another quarter of the season...

    After Javy played 81 games he had 317 PA, 16 HR, 61 RBI, and a strikeout rate of 25.2%. At this point he was now on pace for 32 HR and 122 RBI... See, now the sample size has actually gotten big enough to become meaningful. Javy finished the season with 645 PA, 34 HR, 111 RBI, 167 strikeouts, and a strikeout rate of 25.9%. It would be foolish to take his stats after 60 PA and expect him to keep pace and hit 51 HR and 162 RBI, but not so bad to expect him to hit the 40 HR and 147 RBI he was on pace for after 173 PA (41 games in). But I would say that a big part of the reason he didn't keep the pace of either of those is because his strikeout rate continued to go up, which of course, if you're striking out, you're not hitting a home run, and you're probably not driving in runs as you walk back to the dugout. I'll reiterate that at 41 games/173 PA he was on pace for 159 strikeouts. At 81 games/317 PA, he was on pace for 160 strikeouts. He finished the season with 167 strikeouts, and now at that point, even the HR and RBI were very predictable (32HR/122 RBI) as the sample size got even bigger. So see how you can get to the point where the statistic can stabilize, but still becomes more telling as the sample size gets even bigger.

    What's troublesome to me is knowing that Javy had a 32.8 strikeout rate in September 2018, when the Cubs needed the best from him. And now this season in 59 PA, he's got a 35.6% strikeout rate. So for the rest of Javy's career, should we expect him to continue delivering the good offensive output he had from mid-April to the end of August of 2018 while playing to a lower strikeout rate, or should we expect it to be somewhere between those hot 4.5 months and the rest of his career where his strikeout rate has ranged between 28% and 35%?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I understand your points and agree on everything other than what you are perceiving to be poor performances. Of course he isn’t going to bang out 52 with 130 rbis, what I was trying to do is calm somewhat your idea that he is in for major regression. He isn’t and I would put up one green cash Benjamin against anyone with my claim being he will hit at least 30 hrs coupled with over 100 rbis. Ok....technically compared to last year some could call that regression....I won’t. Those kind of numbers from a middle infielder you don’t find everyday.
    It’s early, it’s cold out, conditions not conducive to playing great......the dust hasn’t settled anywhere’s just too early to be judging anyones play and then writing them off as major suckage.
    But, we are fans.....some freak, some meh and some yawn.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I wouldn't quite say it's poor performance, but just that there are indicators that we shouldn't expect the same as last year. I do believe he'll get in hot streaks just like last year, but I don't know if they'll be quite as high and for as long as some of his stretches from last year. But that's why I want Javy to use better discretion in the types of swings he uses. He could take the 50-80 walks that pitchers seems fine in offering to him, and pass the baton to the next batter and put pressure on opposing pitchers and defenses when he's on base, like he did last year. That's why I always say that Javy goes to bat for only himself, and not his teammates. I wish they'd take the name off the back of his jersey and just put "teammate" on it! He can't put pressure on opposing teams while walking back to the dugout after a strikeout! If he took those walks and took all the same hacks at more hittable pitches in the zone, he would be pushing the levels that Mookie Betts, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and the others that are building foundations for Hall of Fame careers... That's all this fan wants!!!!

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Agree yes....he had a game either in Texas or Atlanta where he swung at ball 4, whiffed and then Contreras hit one’s aggravating no doubt. If he ever would walk 80 times a year you’re probably looking at mvp.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Small sample size or not, I stand by my preseason thoughts and that 2018 was a career year for him. He's a hit or miss player. When he's on, he's REALLY ON, but when he's off, he's woeful. RIght now, he's woeful.

  • Listening to Pat and Ron. I think Pujols is now 13 RBI shy of 2000. Pat noted that Henry Aaron had 2297. That's 100 a year for 23 (!) years. I knew all that, but it's still amazing.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Every Hank Aaron stat is pretty amazing.

  • How about that Bote dye job! The homer was great too!

  • Willson to Pujols:

    "Anything you can do, I can do better.
    I can do anything better than you."

  • Boy Contreras is locked in this is 2017 2nd half Willson at work and it’s fun to see. Glad they didn’t trade him as many cub fans in less intelligent websites have argued

  • Hamels pitching old school here my friends.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Agreed what a performance he's quickly becoming one of my most trusted options. It would drive me crazy how fans on the athletic constantly blast the front office for exercising his club option given the teams limited resources. How in the world can you decline that option after Hamels 2nd half with the cubs last season is my question?

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Don't look now, but we're starting to string together some fine performances from the starting staff and bullpen.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I still wouldn't trust my enemy with this BP. The only reason Stropp did anything was bc I dropped him in Fantasy. LOL That being said, the SP has been better, excluding Darvish who's easily could have given up 4 HR"s had the wind been blowing out. I will feel much better if and when Hendricks can figure it out.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    H/t to 09:


  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    That was meant as a separate comment, not a reply.

  • Cubs in talks with the Red Sox presumably about acquiring Sandy Leon.

  • Long time reader here. Met John in Arizona.
    I have been watching the Cubs since opening day 1969. Fell in love with them that year. I cannot begin to tell you how many thousands of games that I have watched. Started reading here in 2012. Best Cub site.
    My question is---are most of you having fun? I mean really-having fun watching your team. I have not seen so many people criticizing so much about our beloved Cubs as so many of you seem to be. I don't think John would like it.

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