Crosstown Showdown Round 1: White Sox, Cubs Series Preview

Morale is high on the south side of Chicago as the White Sox have won five straight games. They are fresh of a series sweep of the Detroit Tigers and seem ready for any challenge thrown at them. The offense put up 31 runs and the pitching looked as good as it has all season against the Tigers.

The Sox had a .324 batting average while also posting a .412 on-base percentage and a .610 slugging percentage. Sox pitching posted a 2.00 earned run average across the four Tigers series game.

Detroit Tigers are a much different challenger than their next foe. The Sox head north to Wrigley Field to play a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs. They’ll play another three games at Guaranteed Rate Field to close out the season starting September 25 through September 27.

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs are 16-8 and hold a four-game lead in the NL Central entering the weekend. Their 16 wins are the second-most in the National lead behind the Los Angeles Dodger’s 19 wins.

Northsiders are 11-6 at Wrigley Field this season and have even posted a 5-2 record against teams .500 or better. This put the Sox in an interesting situation because they do play really well on the road considering their eight wins in 11 chances. But they also have .333 record in 12 games against .500 or better teams.

This season, the Cubs have an MVP candidate in Ian Happ and potential Cy Young winners in both Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendrick. All three will be on playing this weekend.

Ian Happ has played all 24 games for the Cubs. He has splits of .315/.438/.671/1.109 in 90 plate appearances. He has 13 runs, six doubles, a triple, six home runs, 14 RBI, and 15 walks this season. His 1.109 OPS is the third highest in the National and fifth in all Major League Baseball. He does strike out 34 percent of the time which could be beneficial for the Sox pitching staff.

The Sox do unfortunately have to face three really solid pitchers this weekend. Lester may be 36-years-old, but he still competes. He may be seeking revenge this weekend because he gave up nine hits, five earned runs, and two home runs against the Milwaukee Brewers in his last start.

Hendricks is 1-3 with a 3.55 ERA in seven starts against the Sox, even lasting just four innings in his 2019 appearance against them. This time around, he will at home where he is much better considering his 2.58 ERA in those 83 appearances. Hendricks also has posted his career-best FIP (2.71), WHIP (0.918), BB/9 (0.8- MLB best), and K/BB (8.33) in his five 2020 starts.

Yu Darvish has not had the easiest time in Chicago but has quieted some of his doubters recently. He is among the league leaders in several pitching categories. He currently is 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 0.90 WHIP, and a .204 opposing batters’ batting average.

Mound Matchups

  • Friday, 7:15 p.m. CT: LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-2, 3.07) vs. LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 2.74)
    • Sox hitters have a career .252 average in 131 against Lester with 19 extra-base hits, 13 RBI, 11 walks, and 29 strikeouts.
      • 49 of those at-bats are from Edwin Encarnacion. He has 10 hits which include 5 doubles and three home runs to go along with 8 RBI, 6 walks, and 10 strikeouts.
  • Saturday, 7:15 p.m CT: RHP Dylan Cease (4-1, 3.16 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-2, 3.31)
    • Cease has won four straight starts. This will be his first career start vs. Cubs.
    • Sox hitters have an impressive .404 average against Hendricks.
    • Eloy Jiménez also did this last year against Hendricks…

  • Sunday, 1:20 p.m. CT: TBD vs. RHP Yu Darvish (4-1, 1.80)
    • Jose Abreu is 2 for 3 with a home run and one RBI against Darvish.
    • James McCann is 2 for 5 with a double, a home run, and three RBI against Darvish.
    • Darvish last pitched against the White Sox in 2017.
    • Darvish has only allowed one home runs this season.

Who’s Hot

  • Jose Abreu- 9/18, 3 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 3 R in DET series.
  • Tim Anderson– 9/18, 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, HBP in DET series.
  • Sox Bullpen- 0.68 ERA, 13.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R/ 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K in DET series.

Who’s Not

Final Thought

This White Sox/Cubs series is different from year past. The two teams are playing highly competitive baseball and want to show the league they are playoff and even World Series, contenders. The series currently sits at 62-60 with the Sox having the edge.

Over the last five season, Cubs lead the Series 14-10 with series wins in 2017 and 2018.

This year’s Chicago White Sox team is not the same team from those years. Don’t expect this series to be a walk in the park for either clubs this weekend.

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