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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. White Sox series preview

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The Sox are actually pretty good this year.

Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

In the past, you’ve all enjoyed the White Sox previews written by Brett Ballantini, managing editor of our SB Nation Sox site South Side Sox.

Brett’s outdone himself this time.

Seriously, Cubs? You’re so ticked off that the White Sox are the sexier team in town now, you had to reel off 20 wins in 25 games or whatever it is? You can’t be that jealous of the White Sox getting all that free, unwarranted pub, so much media attention, for accomplishing … nothing, can you?

Oh, wait, that’s sort of been the story of Chicago baseball for the past 40 years, give or take! Are you digging the role reversal? Oh, how the turntables have … turned.

Anyway, congrats for being so great, guys, even though with every win there’s some maudlin Zoom interview with Rizzo or Lester where they’re moping around like “well you know, we gotta go for it, it might be our last year together” as if MARQUEE™ is filming some sort of documentary to preserve for future generations the story of a team that won one World Series and just could never … get … back.

Any of you guys still with me, still reading? Hey, all right.

Well, let me introduce you to the less maudlin Chicago baseball crew, the Chicago White Sox. They’re not only less maudlin, they’re a downright giddy bunch. Everything the old guard warned you against — bat flips, fist pumps, silly dances — these White Sox got. The “play the right way” guard has got bunchy underwear for real over these guys.

Let’s highlight a few players you’ll probably get all too familiar with this weekend:

Tim Anderson has LOST HIS MIND. Those who found his .400 BABIP laughable and predicted a .230 batting average in 2020 are sorely disappointed, as somehow TA has upped the ante. His BABIP might be .800 so far this year. He’s got a power stroke, speed, swagger. The leadoff man is the engine that makes the White Sox run. And after sending poor Matthew Boyd over the edge in the past week, homer by homer, TA turns his lonely eyes to the north side for some more fun.

Eloy Jiménez is happy that the walls surrounding him in left will prevent any shrimp boat shenanigans, with him wriggling out of the net in a desperate bid for freedom, on defense at Wrigley. You may have seen some footage. But you may also have seen that Eloy, who dreamed as a boy of playing at Wrigley Field for the Cubs, now really, really, really, really relishes punishing the team that forsake him. His exit velocity averages roughly 205 mph this season, including all the balls he was pounding into the ground during a recent slump. Bad news: Eloy plays for the White Sox now. Badder news: He’s not slumping anymore.

José Abreu now has the same original ball-mashing flavor, but is now fortified with legitimate plus-defense at first. Really!

Luis Robert somehow is just fourth on the list here, perhaps because in an ill-fated attempt to catch every single ball hit between the lip of the infield and somewhere near the elotes stand on the concourse, rolled over his hand on a dive attempt and has sat for a day or two. He should be ready for the Cubs, though. I have asked both Leury García and Anderson how long it will be before Robert calls them off of an infield fly and both laughed and figured pretty immediately. So, Luis has range. And if you throw him a strike, he’ll hit it to the moon.

Yoán Moncada is built like a fullback, hits like prime Robinson Cano, and has the between-innings gait of Mr. Magoo. I’d say he’s still the best all-around player on the White Sox, but it might be hard for him to sustain the claim when he is constantly wincing and limping and appearing to be one popup from death. However, Yoán hasn’t reached the Alexei Ramírez level of getting hit by a pitch and rolling around in the batter’s box as if peppered with buckshot … yet.

Pitchers? Dallas Keuchel lulls you to sleep with his mind control, plus some brain control. TBD has started more games than anyone else for the White Sox this season.

The bullpen has been sheer murder this season, with a parade of young cannons each trying to outdo the other: Matt Foster, Zack Burdi, Codi Heuer.

I think that’s it. It feels like it’s been a long time since the White Sox and Cubs have met and collectively been this good. So this weekend should be fun.

Fun fact

This series has been very even, all-time. It seems no matter which team is good or isn’t, the Cubs and Sox play each other tough. The Cubs have won 60 and the Sox 62 since the series began in 1997. The Cubs have a slight advantage at Wrigley, 31-30. Since 2017, though, the Cubs are 9-5 vs. the Sox.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Jon Lester, LHP (2-0, 2.74 ERA, 0.870 WHIP, 4.40 FIP) vs. Dallas Keuchel, LHP (3-2, 3.07 ERA, 1.057 WHIP, 3.55 FIP)

Saturday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (3-2, 3.31 ERA, 0.918 WHIP, 2.68 FIP) vs. TBD

Sunday: Yu Darvish, RHP (4-1, 1.80 ERA, 0.900 WHIP, 2.01 FIP) vs. Dylan Cease, RHP (4-1, 3.16 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 6.14 FIP)

Brett Ballantini says “TBD” could be Reynaldo Lopez in his return, but he might wind up being an “opener” for Gio Gonzalez.

Times & TV channels

Friday: 7:15 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers Jason Benetti and Steve Stone), ESPN (full national broadcast, no blackouts, announcers Jon Sciambi and Chipper Jones).

Saturday: 7:15 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers Jason Benetti and Steve Stone)

Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers Jason Benetti and Steve Stone)

Prediction

As Brett Ballantini notes, the Sox are a much-improved team this year. With expanded playoffs, both these teams should be October participants. Still, the Sox have run up their 15-11 record mostly against bad teams. They’re 11-3 against teams currently under .500 and 4-8 against teams currently .500 or better.

The Cubs, meanwhile, are 5-2 against teams currently .500 or better, 11-6 against teams currently under .500.

The Cubs will take two of three this weekend.

Up next

The Cubs travel to Detroit for a three-game series against the Tigers beginning Monday evening.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    3
    (37 votes)
  • 40%
    2
    (74 votes)
  • 24%
    1
    (46 votes)
  • 15%
    0
    (28 votes)
185 votes total Vote Now