Improved offense is the name of the game
The Angels hitting has improved vastly over the last couple of series, as a lot of the smaller holes in the lineup are being filled with actual talent. David Fletcher is anchoring the bottom of the lineup with a solid .303/.324/.333 slash line with a double, 2 RBI’s, and 2 stolen bases in 34 PA’s.
I know that slash line isn’t the hottest thing in the world, but from the #9 hole it provides a serious boost when the top of lineup comes up with a runner on. Fletcher has proven to be able to deliver clutch hits, even if it is singles most of the time, and that’s really all the Angels need. Consistent hitting, which is something Fletcher provides.
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This also gives Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout the opportunity to hit with runners on. Trout’s luck with hitting with runners on is starting to slowly improve, but it’s still at a point where we could definitely see more action on the base paths when Trout is up. Fletcher is a great start and hopefully somewhere down the line we will see the future All-Star leadoff man Luis Rengifo come up from Triple A and settle into a MLB role. For now, however, the Angels are in a solid position.
Even though Mike Trout is out for a short time, this offense looks good enough to provide Tyler Skaggs with actual run support in the opening game of this series. Skaggs looked pretty fantastic in his last start out against the Texas Rangers, as he allowed only one run over 6.1 IP. His command was far more in control against Texas as he struck out five while walking just one.
It would be great to see Skaggs improve on his last start, as he did throw 31 balls to his 70 strikes. Nonetheless, even if he does take that performance into Chicago, the Angels will be looking at a very winnable game. Skaggs has the stuff to be a top of the line MLB pitcher, and he showed off that potential against Rangers. But now it’s time for Skaggs to tap fully into that deep pool of talent.
The Cubs lineup is a little more dangerous than the Rangers, as it features hitters such as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Jaiver Baez; there will need to be a bit more precision from Skaggs in this outing to avoid giving these dangerous hitters opportunities for success. However, seeing how Trevor Cahill performed against the dangerous Brewers lineup offers confidence that the talented Skaggs will bring fire to the Cubs lineup.