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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. White Sox series preview

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This could be lots of fun for the Cubs. Or not.

Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Which of these scenarios is worse?

  • Losing three straight games to the worst team in the league, scoring a total of three runs on 12 hits in the three games, or
  • Losing three straight games to one of your biggest division rivals, one on a walkoff in extra innings in which you had a multiple-run lead in the top of the 10th, another in which you had a multiple-run lead in the seventh inning?

Yuck. Those, ladies and gentlemen, are your 2020 Cubs (top) and 2020 White Sox (bottom). Both ballclubs come reeling into this final regular-season series with a chance to win their divisions and host a wild-card series next week. Or not.

Fun times. For more on the Sox, here’s the always-eloquent Brett Ballantini, managing editor of our SB Nation White Sox site South Side Sox:

Hey Cubs fans, I’m back. Short season. We play each other a lot.

You might remember me from “guy who compared his neighbor cutting all his trees down to the 2018 Chicago White Sox” or some other kind of nonsense Al gives me space for here, but today I’ll just start by saying hey, how’d you like that series in August? I remember that poll on the page saying the Cubs would sweep, or win two of three. Uh-huh. You were one Yu from getting swept out of your own park!

Although, that’s sort of like the whole Cubs season so far, right?

All right all right, stop leaving nasty comments, scroll back up, I’m here to talk about the Sox. And, as you are probably aware unless you’re one of those fans whose rivalry or sports awareness somehow does NOT carry over to the team 10 miles south, we’re having some of the same trouble you guys are.

Wet spaghetti bats.

To be fair, you guys just got like four hits off the Pittsburgh Pirates … in an entire series. But the White Sox and their ballyhooed mega offense has taken a nap since clinching the playoffs in a three-of-four smackdown on the division darling Twins last week. Tim Anderson pushed his batting average near .370, talked some sweet smack on the FOX national broadcast last Saturday — and then forgot how to hit. James McCann, who many Sox/AL fans think should be DHing even though the White Sox have no other backup catchers, has reverted to Tigers-era McCann. Yoán Moncada has been a seasonlong public service announcement for mask-wearing, because by his own admission he’s been significantly slowed by the aftereffects of his coronavirus infection at the start of Summer Camp. Nomar Mazara was supposed to hit, and never did. Edwin Encarnación was presumed to hit, and never would.

Luis Robert? Yeah, he’s badass. But at the moment, he’s lucky he can strike out three times a game and still provide positive defensive value, because otherwise he might be watching from the bench this weekend. Of course, he’s played all of 50 MLB games, so this is not a brow-beat as much as it is a pleading he not chase ANOTHER breaking pitch in the left-handed batter’s box.

In short, we both need José Abreu. But only one of us got him. And if that isn’t bad enough news for Cubs fans, he won’t be taking any time off this weekend, as he intends to play every game this season. Because, and I am not making this up, his mother gets angry at him if he does.

Pitching: Well, you’re getting our 3-4-5 starters, although frankly everything beyond Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel up top is a crapshoot: Dane Dunning, a rookie; Dylan Cease, basically a rookie still without a full season of starts under his belt; and Reynaldo López, who acts like a rookie. But each of these guys is capable of pitching lights-out, and they’re basically all fighting to be in the playoff rotation, so I’m not sure if you can feel too comfy even about facing the also-rans.

Of course, I think I could be going on Friday, Al on Saturday, Sara on Sunday and you guys might not feel too confident in your offense.

Sox pen: Killer. Like, three dozen young arms, each throwing harder than the next. Latest: 2020 first-rounder Garrett Crochet, who has averaged, and I am not making this up, 99.9 mph on his fastball in the first four games of his career.

So friends, I’d say you’re lucky you’ve already clinched the playoffs. If any of you have quietly chuckled over the White Sox’s recent misfortunes (I know, I know, Cubs fans don’t even realize there’s another team in town!), well, that wasn’t too smart, because now the White Sox have to play like they care this weekend, fighting for a division title that wasn’t just handed us by the sheer atrociousness of every other NL Central club.

Oh … wait, you haven’t clinched the division yet? Uh-oh.

White Sox: sweep.

Fun fact

The White Sox hit a ridiculous 12 home runs in taking two of three from the Cubs at Wrigley Field last month. The Sox HR barrage has slowed, though — they have hit a total of 13 home runs in their last 11 games, and gone 4-7 in those games.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Yu Darvish, RHP (7-3, 2.22 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 2.23 FIP) vs. Dylan Cease, RHP (5-3, 3.52 ERA, 1.435 WHIP, 5.92 FIP)

Saturday: Jon Lester, LHP (3-2, 4.40 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 4.98 FIP) vs. Dane Dunning, RHP (2-0, 3.19 ERA, 1.032 WHIP, 3.38 FIP)

Sunday: Jose Quintana, LHP (0-0, 5.63 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 3.06 FIP) vs. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP (1-2, 4.68 ERA, 1.440 WHIP, 6.70 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Friday: 7:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers), ESPN2 (outside Cubs/White Sox market territories, announcers Karl Ravech, Rick Sutcliffe and Tim Kurkjian)

Saturday: 6:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers)

Sunday: 2:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers), TBS (outside Cubs/White Sox market territories, announcers Joe Simpson and Ron Darling)

Prediction

Oh, man, I don’t have the slightest idea. Brett Ballantini says the Sox will sweep, and the way the Cubs have been playing recently that’s entirely possible.

But the fact that Yu Darvish is throwing the first game gives the Cubs a chance, and Jon Lester seems to always step up in these sorts of situations.

The Cubs pretty much need to take two of three to give them a good chance at the division title, so I’ll say that, but with little confidence.

Up next

A postseason best-of-three wild-card series against a team TBD beginning Wednesday, September 30.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    3
    (19 votes)
  • 31%
    2
    (49 votes)
  • 38%
    1
    (61 votes)
  • 18%
    0
    (29 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now