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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. White Sox series preview

It’s the first half of the annual Crosstown Series.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Two weeknights in May, in lousy weather, isn’t the best setting for Cubs vs. White Sox. But here we are. The teams enter this series with identical 9-13 records. The Sox have lost 11 of their last 14, the Cubs nine of their last 12. Fun!

For more on the Sox, Brett Ballantini, managing editor of our SB Nation White Sox site South Side Sox, has written his usual novel for us.

So you may have heard that the White Sox have started slow. I’d look up the stats on how badly they are disappointing, but it’s late, I’m in a rush out of town and won’t even get to enjoy the Crosstown games, and I’m already depressive enough.

Last year, among 15 South Side Sox writers, I was the lone postseason holdout, predicting a close division race but ultimate failure, winning 89 or so games and falling short to the Twins. I was wrong. This year I vowed to amend the stance, and while giving the White Sox just one or two more wins than I imagined in 2021, saw them cruising to a division win. Nineteen other South Side Sox writers — yes, everyone else — agreed.

So what I’m saying is that this flaccid, flatulent start to 2022 could well be my fault for showing too much faith in the club.

So, let’s review some stuff about the White Sox, who despite not being in a rebuild (the Cubs are in a rebuild, right? Boy, rebuild gets tossed around everywhere now. White Sox might as well be “rebuilding” too, because they’re horrible) have been really, really bad. The team started out gangbusters, the best team (yeah, 6-2, shut up) in the majors for the first week — then quickly played like the worst, almost (thx Cincy).

The rotation, woefully thin despite having three or four stud stars, has been woebegone. Lucas Giolito hurt his abs in his Opening Day start, but he’s back. Lance Lynn, who, yes, still resembles a Grant Park 16´´softballer who somehow made a Cy Young charge in 2021, busted a knee tendon doing some blustery Bluto/Brutus mound maneuver and will miss roughly half of the year. Michael Kopech has been lights-out, but after missing two seasons and then tossing out of the pen in an ease-back 2021, is innings-limited and promises to be our Carlos Rodón for 2022. And Dylan Cease. If I could mumble and murmur so as not to offend youse on the north side, I would. But, boy howdy, Dylan is GOOD. He might never ascend to No. 1 ace/Cy stud, but man if this guy is your No. 2, jump back honky cat. That meme or whatever from Benetti you’re so tired of, “Thanks, Cubs!”, well, it’s gonna be steered to Cease and not Eloy soon enough.

Speaking of, Eloy’s hurt. Yup. Not in the outfield, though. Running.

Luis Robert was hurt, now he’s not, it’s about even odds he gets hurt during this brief Crosstown soiree. AJ Pollock, sorta pilfered from L.A. (except no one pilfers from L.A.) in exchange for Craig Kimbrel (which means we sorta traded Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer for AJ Pollock last year, WOOOOOOO HOOOO), I think he’s played this year. A little? He had a four-hit game early on. That was cool.

Yoán Moncada is in Charlotte rehabbing from excessive pop stardom and another MLB ailment du jour, a strained oblique. Tim Anderson is still around to harass and menace you, only this year only with the bat; TA is committing errors at an 1820s pace. The White Sox have no second baseman to speak of. At first base, José Abreu is waiting for the weather to crack 45° consistently, and only then he’ll hit again. You are safe from five homers in five swings or whatever that nuttiness was a couple of years back, when baseball was young and we all had such hope. Since his homer streak, Pito has grown a weird beard, like something you’d see on someone who knows what patchouli is, or, like, Perry Ferrell. Helluva incongruent look. Yasmani Grandal seems to mostly play DH these days, leaving Reese McGuire to do more catching than you’d think, which is cool because he can really use his hands [morning zoo sound gizmo effect].

Bullpen? Yeah, we got one. It’s pretty OK? How about this for funny, and again, I’m too lazy to look this up but this is one factoid I’m not deliberately exaggerating (count ’em up above, closest guess gets an old Al Yellon autographed ticket stub), there was a time pre-Kimbrel trade where the White Sox had something like $56 million devoted to relievers. On a “limited” (major market big city title contending, cough) payroll, that is abominable.

Say, is this guy ever going to stop? I thought he said he was running behind and hustling out of town? Do I have to keep reading?

So let’s talk about the offseason, sleeper agent Rick Hahn.

It’s always fun to giggle at the worst trades ever made by a team, trust me I have most of the Cubs’ worst committed to memory. And the White Sox have quite a few, too. But I might argue that perhaps the single most horrible decision the White Sox have made in my lifetime (and yes, though not yet a fan I was alive when the White Sox brought Ron Santo to the South Side, so’s he could haze young White Sox players and turn Dick Allen, himself in between harness racing bets and between bites of chili dog, into a HERO) was the decision by Hahn not to extend Rodón a qualifying offer. It’s like the Red Sox forgetting to get Carlton Fisk (and others) a contract in time back in 1980, except Hahn isn’t gonna mea culpa this Rodón thing, no siree. Five-plus WAR in two-thirds of a 2021 season; came back in the playoffs to hit triple-digits on the gun … and you don’t do your diligence to at least offer $18 mil to one of your aces to come back for one more year, and if Los bolts, cop the free pick in July. GMing 101. An unbelievable whiff.

So yeah, while Hahn was busy signing as many unnecessarily expensive relievers as he could (Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman, probably some guys in Korea and in the CarShield Collegiate League) all the other real needs on the team (rotation depth, 2B, RF, C) flapped in the breeze. Speaking of flapping, Hahn redeemed himself a smidge with a flip of non-catching catcher Zack Collins to Toronto for McGuire. But you don’t throw World Series parades for standing up Leury García, Josh Harrison and Reese McGuire as your key offensive acquisitions in the offseason. Although, yes, you see where I’m going here, they are offensive.

I’ll mention Dallas Keuchel, who is currently on John Danks Watch on the South Side. How much of that sweet sweet cash will Jerry eat? None, probably, because the White Sox (scroll up) have zero rotation depth. But I bring Kid Keuchy up not for his mighty beard or his self-aggrandizement, but for the fact that, sorry Cubs offense that has scored like 22 runs in the past 10 games, 21 all in one game, but you will not see Keuchel in this mini-series.

You might not see hitting phenom Andrew Vaughn, either. He was hit on the hand with a pitch and like the rest of humanity and even much of the animal and insect kingdom, is day-to-day.

Good luck, north side. These games will be here and gone before you know it, and just like that, we’ll never know who won the last Crosstown Obelisk before MLB went and played massive interleague on the regular.

Fun facts

All-time, the Cubs are 32-35 against the Sox in both ballparks in Chicago, 64-70 overall. The runs scored by the teams in those 134 games are almost even: 616 for the Cubs, 618 for the Sox.

Also, after going 17-13 against the Sox from 2015-20, the Cubs lost five of six to them in 2021 and were outscored 51-30.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday: Drew Smyly, LHP (1-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.086 WHIP, 4.86 FIP) vs. Michael Kopech, RHP (0-0, 1.42 ERA, 0.947 WHIP, 2.73 FIP)

Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (1-2, 5.47 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 5.04 FIP) vs. Lucas Giolito, RHP (0-1, 2.57 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 3.05 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 6:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers)

Wednesday: 6:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago (Sox announcers)

Prediction

Kyle Hendricks is pitching better. There’s something about Lucas Giolito that brings out the best in hitters wearing blue pinstripes — he has a career 8.71 ERA in four starts against the Cubs. The Sox are also 5-11 vs. RH starters so far this year.

I don’t see any reason the Cubs shouldn’t at least split this pair.

Up next

The Cubs have Thursday off, then host the Dodgers in a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    2
    (33 votes)
  • 47%
    1
    (72 votes)
  • 30%
    0
    (46 votes)
151 votes total Vote Now