Angels fans, it’s here. Opening Day, a day where you can celebrate the game of baseball. There’s a sense of devotion among fans as the twitter hashtag #CapsOn is sweeping the social media world. Fans of teams from all over the country have their hats on and optimism to boot. The Halos have their eyes on the AL West with a chance for the World Series up for grabs; however, the AL West is arguably the toughest division in all of baseball. Manager Mike Scioscia has his Opening Day lineup set and ready. The Angels have been stellar during spring training placing 2nd in Cactus League play. Now the real season starts and the Angels have a huge test in front of them. They’ll be facing the Chicago Cubs, who also believe it’s their time to win a World Series.
Season Projections: The Angels are entering the 2016 season underestimated and quiet possibly under-ranked. Experts who cover the MLB for all major networks have the Angels finishing anywhere from 3rd to last in the AL West. The Cubs are among the favorites to win the World Series this season. Last season, the Cubs were swept in the NL Championship Series by the New York Mets. Fangraphs.com has projected the Angels to finish 2016 with a record of 82-80, while the Cubs are projected to finish 94-68.
Starting Pitchers: The Angels have named Garrett Richards the Opening Day Starter, He’ll face the reigning National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Richards is making his first Opening Day start after six straight seasons of Jered Weaver being the Opening Day starter for the Angels. Arrieta is making his first Opening Day start for the Cubs and just the 2nd of his career. Last Season Arrieta went 22-6 with an ERA of 1.77. Richards went 15-12 with an ERA of 3.65.
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The Cubs seem to have it all, youth, hitting, and pitching. The Angels have had to address several holes in their fielding as well as questions surrounding their bullpen and rotation; however, with the lineup set and the emergence of players like Andrelton Simmons, Daniel Nava, and Yunel Escobar, the Angels are in a prime position to shock the Cubs and win this series. It’s no question that last season was a disappointment for the Angels, missing the playoffs by one game and losing the AL West title that the Angels claimed in 2014. The Angels are out to prove last season was a fluke, they have a chip on their shoulder. The Angels ranked 12th in the league in scoring. They were dead last in batting average and 12th in on-base percentage. If you follow spring training, you’ll know that the Angels scoring average rose from a 4.0 last season, to a 6.8 in spring training.
The Angels remain optimistic, Garrett Richards told the Orange County Register that ” I’d rather nobody talk about us all year, to be honest.” Jered Weaver also spoke to the media saying ““I don’t like hype. There’s been many teams that have won the last couple years that haven’t been hyped either. You never get caught up in hype. It’s baseball. (Stuff) can happen.” This is a good sign, the Angels have a goal in mind, and they aren’t concerned with the numbers. The Angels are after the AL West and the World Series.