Albert Almora Jr. is leading off in center with a lefty on the mound as he looks to find some kind of offensive spark. The glove will play, but the Cubs were expecting at least some of the pop he showed this spring to carry over into what has been a very disappointing campaign so far. Kris Bryant has done much of the same, and what could have been a much-needed extra-base hit for him was robbed last night.
Anthony Rizzo bats third, Javy Baez cleans up at short, and Willson Contreras is catching. David Bote handles second base, Mark Zagunis is in right, and Kyle Schwarber is in left batting eighth. Schwarber has been acting like he’s in a parade as he waves at everything lately, so a move down may shake something loose.
Tyler Skaggs will be on the bump for Anaheim for his third start of the season. The lefty isn’t a big strikeout guy, but he has done a good job of limiting the longball and has been a solid starter when he’s healthy. He set career highs with 24 starts and 125.1 innings last season, so he’s not exactly been a workhorse.
Skaggs features a 90 mph fastball that he uses about half the time and a slow curve that makes up a third of his offerings, but the changeup has been a big weapon for him as well. His offspeed pitch generates more swinging strikes than the others, but none of those results are particularly outstanding.
A fairly neutral-split pitcher, Skaggs’ numbers are highly inflated by the AL’s ability to stack righties against him. Lefties have not generated quite as power against him and they don’t walk nearly as often, but they strike out less frequently. Schwarber may put that to the test in this one after notching seven K’s in his last two games.
Cole Hamels goes for the Cubs in this one as he looks to build upon the improvement he’s shown through two previous starts. He’s displayed excellent control and his command was much better the last time out, but he’s been stung by homers a couple times.
It helps that Mike Trout is not in an Angels’ lineup that is anchored by the aged Albert Pujols and features two hitters batting under .050 at this point. Zack Cozart might not remain at .033 for long, but Peter Bourjos isn’t a big threat to suddenly turn that .048 into a monster season.
First pitch is set for 1:20pm CT and can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago or MLB Network. As always, 670 The Score has the radio call.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 12, 2019