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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. White Sox series preview

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The Cubs return home, which is good. The White Sox are better than they were last year. This will be a good series.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

As is my custom, I asked Brett Ballantini, managing editor of our SB Nation White Sox site South Side Sox, to write me about 200 words about the Sox for this series preview.

In trying to limit himself to 200 words, he failed. I think you’ll enjoy reading the 1,150 words he did write.

Well, let’s see, I remember last year comparing the torturousness of the 2018 Chicago White Sox to my neighbors committing crimes against nature, as they blitzkrieged our tranquil bow of a neighborhood and left trees massacred, grounds lumpy, and birds dazed, confused. I don’t know why or how I did that, guys. That was a really dumb, random, extended metaphor. But, well, it speaks to the trauma of the season to have compared 2018 to scorched-earth environmental devastation. I’ve now lived through a 100-loss season, and I don’t want to do it again.

Well, two games worse than .500 the 2019 White Sox may be, I don’t have to tell you things are brighter on the South Side these days. Don’t ask me how this team is nearly .500 at 34-36, solidly in third place in a division even as rancid as the AL Central. Yes, the fact that the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers are battling hard to see who gets relegated to the International League plays a factor in the White Sox’s hot pursuit of .500, but whoa there, the White Sox just split a series with the “vaunted,” “just wait till they get healthy” New York Yankees, and took five of eight in the season tussle. The charmers at the New York Post even called the White Sox “mediocre,” which despite being 100% accurate is just not the sort of thing you should be launching out westward as our Mediocrities are eating the Bronx Bombers’ lunch, yeah? WE get to call our guys mediocre, often punctuated with angry calls to sports radio or ironic T-shirts. But hi-hats from the Bronx calling us such? That’s a jagbag move.

Wait … Al, you ARE asking me to explain how this White Sox team is nearly .500? Oh, man. I gotta research and stuff? (Am I getting paid for this?)

Well, Lucas Giolito is responsible for 10 literal baseball wins, if you want to be literal about pitcher wins. But when you look at the White Sox starting rotation, you’d swear he’s responsible for all 34 wins, considering his hard-to-measure “staff confidence WAR” and “bullpen-rescuing velocity.” I mean, some of you who could give a hell for the White Sox are like, “is this clown from SSS pulling my leg with this Giolito stuff? He was the worst starter in baseball last year.” Well, indifferent Cubs fan, your shock is not unfounded. Giolito indeed was not just the worst White Sox starter in 2018 — no easy task with James Shields taking every fifth turn, boy howdy — but THE WORST STARTER IN BASEBALL. I could look it up, but you’re gonna have to trust me. He was godawful. Now, after an offseason chatting with his old high school coach, Giolito came back with a revamped delivery that has been pure butter in the first half. There’s talk of Giolito being the AL All-Star starter, even a Cy Young favorite. And those observations are not ironic in the least. So, watch out. You see him on Wednesday, most likely. Prepare to be dumbfounded like the rest of us.

How about we don’t talk about any of the other starters, because they are bad. Like, almost missing James Shields bad.

OK, the relievers; not horrible. Alex Colomé came over from Seattle in the offseason and proved that 100-loss teams trading for lockdown closers (and it wasn’t a one-off, the White Sox signed Kelvin Herrera for top-of-the-market bux,too) can be a thing. I don’t know what else to call it; let’s just call it “a thing.” Evan Marshall has been a sweet reclamation project. Southpaws Aaron Bummer (now good) and Jace Fry (now bad, and injured) have seemed to switch places this season.

People say the White Sox offense is pretty OK. Yep, it checks out. Tim Anderson, a batflipper driving traditionalists batflip insane, has been really good. Yoán Moncada, of the 217-strikeout Moncadas, maybe had lunch with Javy Baez this offseason and infected him with whatever K virus Javy has this season; meanwhile, Moncada has been even better than TA, and has largely shed that K disease. Yoán’s got a cranky back and seems in question for the Cubs series, though. José Abreu is somehow leading the AL in RBIs, which is pretty wild because he spent a lot of April beating his bat into the ground chasing sliders.

Anyone else? Oh, yeah, James McCann! James McCann was our Big Free Agent Signing on Offense (and no, the White Sox pursued NO OTHER OFFENSIVE PLAYERS THIS OFFSEASON AND IF YOU DARE PUSH ME ON THE TOPIC I SWEAR I’LL), which made even people who stopped following the White Sox as Joel Skinner turned to Ron Karkovice feel embarrassed for us. Well, guess what? Somehow, James McCann is on track to be an All-Star this season. It’s been Freaky Friday on the South Side every day of the week, I tell you.

OK, so, I mean, I don’t want to bring up Eloy Jiménez, but I just know all of you are still stuck on my ALL CAPS up there, so you’re thinking about making fun of my team for signing and trading for like eight useless players with explicit instructions to deliver a certain $300 million man to the White Sox but who all ended up, somehow, collectively advising their close friend/son/brother/father/best man/training partner Manny Whoever to sign in SAN DIEGO instead of Chicago. So, because you guys are thinking mean thoughts about me and mine, sorry, but Eloy Jiménez is doing very well on the White Sox, thank you very much. He tends to get lost in the desert in left field too often, but considering I mocked the notion of suppressing Eloy in the minors last year because of his “defense” by pointing out that Eloy could play left field naked and improve the White Sox with all he brings in the batter’s box, I’m contractually forbidden to complain about his defense this year. He’s good. Three two-homer games already this season, I think, one coming during a New York monsoon. Better still, Eloy is a joy to watch. There aren’t many baseball players who seem to, you know, enjoy playing baseball. Eloy is not one of those dudes. So Eloy’s sense of wonder and delight makes his ascent even more fun to witness.

So listen, next offseason, when the White Sox reveal they bought out Whataburger because it’s Gerrit Cole’s favorite chow and hire Gerrit’s pop as the new pitching coach and hire his greyhounds as official White Sox bat dogs and hire Mrs. Gerrit Cole as Director of Player Personnel but end up losing the actual pitcher named Gerrit Cole in free agency to, I don’t know, the Louisville Bats, don’t laugh at the White Sox. They’re trying, c’mon.

And if you do, I’ll come back here next year and talk to you about Dylan Cease.

Fun fact

Since July 27, 2016, the Cubs are 9-3 against the White Sox and have outscored them 73-38 in those 12 games. The all-time series with the Sox could be tied after this two-game set, as the Cubs currently trail 58 wins to 60.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday: Cole Hamels, LHP (6-2, 2.98 ERA, 1.181 WHIP, 3.43 FIP) vs. Ivan Nova, RHP (3-5, 6.28 ERA, 1.603 WHIP, 5.16 FIP)

Wednesday: Jon Lester, LHP (5-5, 4.08 ERA, 1.344 WHIP, 4.26 FIP) vs. Lucas Giolito, RHP (10-1, 2.22 ERA, 0.951 WHIP, 2.69 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, WGN (Sox announcers)

Wednesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers)

Prediction

The pitching matchups in this series seem to favor the Cubs in the first game, the Sox in the second. No question, Giolito is having a monster season.

But. The Sox have not been a good team on the road and the Cubs are very good at home, and so is Lester.

I hesitate to predict sweeps, but this is just a two-game set and I think the Cubs will take both games.

Up next

The Cubs host the New York Mets for a four-game series at Wrigley Field beginning Thursday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    2
    (136 votes)
  • 38%
    1
    (96 votes)
  • 7%
    0
    (19 votes)
251 votes total Vote Now