It's so cute how the White Sox think they are still in playoff contention. Oh, sure, they are still just five games behind the second wild-card spot, and with 50 games to go for them that's certainly not an insurmountable deficit ... except they're also four games under .500 and there are six teams ahead of them for that spot. They won seven games in a row at the worst possible time, right before the trading deadline.
That meant they didn't deal Jeff Samardzija, who might have brought a decent prospect return (despite pitching poorly at times). Instead, they're likely going to lose him for draft-pick compensation... unless he decides to accept the qualifying offer and try to rebuild his free-agent value on the South Side in 2016. No free agent has accepted a QO yet, and Shark might do better on the open market, but it is at least possible that he'll cost the White Sox (approximately) $16 million next year.
The Sox looked good in sweeping a good team, the Angels, this week. They looked particularly bad getting swept by another good team, the Royals, just before that. They took two of three from the Cubs at Wrigley in July, but that's when the Cubs were having offensive woes (the Cubs are 18-8 since the All-Star break, averaging 4.42 runs per game).
The White Sox' offensive troubles are even worse than what the Cubs were going through a bit earlier this year: they rank 29th in the major leagues in runs. Only the Marlins have scored fewer than the White Sox' 422 runs (and only three fewer, 419). The Cubs have been hitting lately, but still rank just 21st in runs.
Thus I'd expect another low-scoring series. The teams combined for only 11 total runs in three games at Wrigley last month.
Friday: Kyle Hendricks (6-5, 3.73 ERA, 1.156 WHIP, 3.41 FIP) vs. Jeff Samardzija (8-7, 4.62 ERA, 1.224 WHIP, 3.83 FIP)
Saturday: Jake Arrieta (13-6, 2.38 ERA, 0.991 WHIP, 2.66 FIP) vs. Jose Quintana (6-9. 3.59 ERA, 1.284 WHIP, 3.23 FIP)
Sunday: Dan Haren (8-7, 3.55 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, 4.71 FIP) vs. Chris Sale (10-7, 3.47 ERA, 1.071 WHIP, 2.51 FIP)
You can throw most of the pitching matchup info out the window when it comes to Cubs/Sox series. Players seem to up their game for this set. Shark is essentially having the same year he had in 2013 for the Cubs, except with a lower K/9 ratio. He's been very good at times, pretty awful at others. Jake Arrieta has been spectacular, but don't dismiss Jose Quintana, who is quite underrated. And Chris Sale, who dominated the Cubs at Wrigley in July, has a 6.39 ERA since the All-Star break.
The Cubs lost two of three to the Sox at Wrigley. I say they return the favor at the Cell and win two of these games.
The Cubs host the Tigers for a two-game set beginning Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field.