Series Preview: Anaheim Angels of Disneyland (43-45) at Chicago Cubs (39-48)

seriespreview

On June 9th, the Cubs (25-35) and Angels (27-36) had very similar records, and things weren't looking so rosy for the Angels. Since then they've begun digging themselves out of their hole, going 16-9 over that span including two road series sweeps…and climbed into third place in their stacked division. 

  Angels Cubs
wRC+ 109 (5th) 89 (23rd)
BSR -2.8 (17th) -1.6 (16th)
UZR -19.8 (26th) 14.7 (9th)
DRS -57 (29th) 3 (16th)
SP FIP- 109 (23rd) 95 (7th)
RP FIP- 92 (12th) 113 (28th)

The Angels offensive numbers are no surprise. They were second in all of baseball last year even with a down year for Albert Pujols thanks to Mike Trout. You may have heard that he deserved the MVP award last year. Their defensive numbers this year are very surprising, as they rated second best in both DRS and UZR last year. They lost Torii Hunter to free agency, and Trout and especially Peter Bourjos are having relatively down years with the glove. 3B Alberto Callaspo went from fourth best on the team in 2012 to the worst in 2013. Obviously sample sizes are useless at this point in the year for individual players, but for the team as a whole it's interesting to see where the blame is being assigned by the systems, fair or not. 

I always think of the Angels as having a top notch starting staff, but it wasn't the case last year or this year. Injuries have plagued the rotation, and ten different pitchers have started a game this year. Joe Blanton and C.J. Wilson have been healthy, but they've had to make do with negative performances from guys like Barry Enright, the rapidly fading career of Tommy Hanson, and Jerome Williams. (dying laughing), yes, THAT Jerome Williams.

Injury news

The Angels currently have two starters down from their rotation. Jason Vargas has been out for the past three weeks due to a blood clot issue (scary stuff). There's no timetable for his return. Tommy Hanson is on the DL with forearm tightness. He had shoulder issues last year, and has had a string of injuries that seem to scream TJS to me. Speaking of elbow surgery, Ryan Madson can't catch a break in his recovery from last year's procedure. He's shut down with elbow soreness suffered in his rehab. OF Peter Bourjos is out with a broken wrist, and is expected back in a month or so.

For the Cubs, Brian Bogusevic is day to day with hamstring tightness. David DeJesus was able to hit off a tee over the weekend but there's still no timetable for his return. The Cubs won't be able to trade him right now anyway, so they might as well not rush it.

News, notes, blood oaths, etc.

ESPN's Outside the Lines is reporting that MLB is going to start tossing around suspensions stemming the Biogenesis fiasco in the week following the All-Star Break. Knowing how MLB has been handling PR on this, I expect that they'll announce them during the game itself for maximum negative exposure to themselves. There's still talk that Braun and Rodriguez could get 'double' suspensions for allegedly cheating AND lying about it. That sound you hear is Marvin Miller spinning in his grave.

Matt Garza is wising up to this extension talk that has been floating around the past few days and said it's "50-50" that he gets extended. It could go either way. It's been pretty clear though that he's going to be traded, and leveraging up the asking price through his comments could make that faster. Getting traded would mean more dollars in his pocket because whatever team acquires him can't tag him with the stink of draft pick compensation.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: Joe Blanton, RHP (5.14, 109, 3.59, 4.13) vs Travis Wood, LHP (2.69, 89, 4.37, 4.17), 7:05 PM CT

Blanton keeps chugging along. He's pretty much been *the* average starting pitcher over the course of his career – in 9.5 seasons he's amassed 20.2 fWAR. He's always been a pitcher who throws strikes, but strangely enough his strikeout rate has gone up considerably since his two best years by WAR. His HR rate climbed along with it, though he still walks very few batters. It looks like it's no accident either – since 2009 he's had a HR/FB of 12.2% or greater in every season. 

Travis Wood is the Cubs lone All-Star, and deserves the honor. Bonus points to Wood for his stellar ERA despite pitching many games in the best hitters' park in the majors this year (per Len and JD yesterday). In his six starts since the beginning of June, he's allowed 12 runs in 38.1 innings, and has zero wins to show for it thanks to the failpen. 

Wednesday: C.J. Wilson, LHP (3.49, 93, 3.90, 3.66) vs Jeff Samardzija, RHP (3.54, 82, 3.33, 3,43), 7:05 PM CT

As soon as I start complaining about how I feel Samardzija isn't getting enough ASG respect, he has arguably his worst outing of the year. Bleh. 

Wilson was relatively disappointing in the first year of his megacontract, posting a 3.83 ERA and 4.04 FIP that look good until you take into account that their home park is a pitchers' park, which resulted in a 2.2 WAR season. He's been much better this year, however. He'll walk a lot of batters, but strikes out a ton as well and keeps the ball in the yard. He throws a lot of pitches, and his starts have averaged just over six innings this year.

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