Crosstown Showdown, Round 2: White Sox, Cubs’ Pennant Races Collide

Road trips to a typical person are connected to fun, event-filled vacations for an extended period of time. In the baseball world, road trips are both an escape from normalcy but it’s usually business as usual during these away games. The Chicago White Sox just concluded a seven-game road trip which was their worst stretch of baseball all season. Against the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, the Sox went 1-6 and were outscored by a dozen runs.

The team as whole just could not get things going. There were a few starts from guys like Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Reynaldo Lopez that made some games within reach. Even some bullpen outings from Garret Crochet, Codi Heuer, and Matt Foster that continued that trend. Unfortunately, the offense was not just cold, but ice cold. To add on to that, some of the decisions made by manager Ricky Renteria in key moments caused major shifts in the Sox chances of winning.

Ricky has to look more into his game situations moving forward to prevent these struggles. But with this said, the Renteria’s management and the pitching staff can only do so much. Winning takes batters getting on base and runs being driven in. Both of these were a struggle for the Sox during their road trip.

White Sox hit .186 in 231 at-bats with just 20 walks and a staggering 81 strikeouts in their last seven games. That is the equivalent to just 2.8 walks a game and an ugly 11.57 strikeouts per game. Even when opportunities to score presented themselves, the Sox could not capitalize.

In 44 at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Sox hit .181 while leaving 41 on base during their road trip. Take away game two against the Indians when they were 3-for-8 in a loss, they hit .138 and still left 35 on base. They will continue to not win games this season if this continues. Playoffs are right around the corner and this team needs to make a dramatic turnaround before next week.

The White Sox return home to play a three-game series against their crosstown rival Chicago Cubs to close out the season. Both teams have struggled as of late. The Sox have dropped a season-worst five straight games and are 3-7 in their last 10. Cubs have done a little better, splitting their last 10 but have dropped their last three games.

Sox are 17-10 at home this season but have struggled against teams above .500, posting a 11-18 record. Two of those wins have come against the Cubs. The Cubs on the other hand are 13-11 on the road and have performed better than the Sox against clubs .500 or better. The Cubs hold a 17-13 record in such games.

Mound Matchups

  • Friday, 7:10 CT: RHP Dylan Cease (5-3, 3.52) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (7-3, 2.22)
    • Rematch from August 23.
      • Darvish’s line- Win, 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, BB, 10 K.
      • Cease’s line- 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 5 K, HR.
    • Cease has walked the second most batters in the MLB at 32. He has 12 walks combined in his last two appearances.
    • Cease has not gone at least six innings since his start against the Chicago Cubs on August 23.
    • Darvish has not won a game since September 4.
    • Darvish has a 11.5 K/9 ratio and a career-best 1.7 BB/9 ratio.
    • Jose Abreu and James McCann are 6 for 13 against Darvish with three home runs and five runs batted in.
  • Saturday, 6:10 CT: RHP Dane Dunning (2-0, 3.19) vs. LHP Jon Lester (3-2, 4.40 ERA)
    • White Sox are 5-1 in Dunning’s starts with the first loss coming this past Monday to the Indians.
    • Dunning owns a 9.6 K/9 ratio and a 2.9 BB/9 ratio through six career starts.
    • Lester struggled in his Against 22 start against the White Sox. His line- 3.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R/ER, 3 K, 4 HR.
    • Lester is 9-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 12 starts at Guaranteed Rate Field.
    • Two different Lester’s could show up- the one from August 22 or the recent one who has a 1.06 ERA over his last three starts (17 IP).
    • Seven separate White Sox players have hit home runs off Lester.
    • Jose Abreu is 9 for 23 with a double, two home runs, eight RBI, a walk, and six strikeouts vs. Lester.
  • Sunday, 2:10 CT: RHP Reynaldo Lopez (1-2, 4.68) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (0-0, 5.63)
    • Lopez is 1-0 with a 2.35ERA (4 ER/15.1) with 11 strikeouts over his last three starts. All runs scored off of home runs.
    • Quintana has just three appearance which includes one start this season.

Who’s Hot

  • Eloy Jimenez- 6/15, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 5 K in CLE series.
    • Had a hit in each game of the Indian series.
  • Nick Madrigal- 4/12, RBI
    • Had a hit in each game that he played in during the Indian series. He did not play in the series finale.
  • Aaron Bummer- 1 G, 1 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, K in CLE series.
    • First game since August 7.
  • Garrett Crochet- 2 G, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 3 K, HBP in CLE series.
    • Dominance. His stuff is electrifying.
  • Lucas Giolito- 6 IP, 4 H 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 11 K, HR in CLE series.
  • Codi Heuer- 2 G, 3 IP, H, 0 R/ER, BB, 3 K in CLE series.
    • Face the minimum (12 batters).
  • Dallas Keuchel- 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 3 K in CLE series.
    • Dropped season ERA to 1.99.

Who’s Not

  • White Sox offense- mentioned why above.
  • Ricky Renteria- mismanagement of the lineup card and bullpen decisions in key moments.

Final Thoughts

Anything could legitimately happen this week especially since both teams are struggling heading into the playoffs. There are so many question surrounding the offenses, pitching matchups, and almost everything involved. It will make for an interesting series filled with some intense, edge of the seat type of games.

The White Sox have won two of the three and outscored the Cubs 18 to 11. They will look to build on that this weekend.

Featured Photo: AP Photos

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