The battle for Windy City supremacy continues on Saturday when the Chicago Cubs take on the host Chicago White Sox in the first of a two-game series. The teams split their previous two games this season played at Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Cubs are currently 46-42 and a half-game behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central. The Cubs are just 3-7 over their last 10 games and 17-26 on the road, although I don’t know if I would call playing the White Sox an away game. The entire National League Central is up for grabs, as the gap between first and last place is just four games, which is by far the closest in the MLB.
Jon Lester will be back, getting the start for the Cubs in this crosstown rivalry. Lester has had a season full of ups and downs this year. The 35-year-old veteran lefty is 7-6 in decisions this year with a 3.89 ERA and 90 strikeouts. In his last outing, he gave up four earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the division rival Cincinnati Reds.
The Cubs will be well represented in the All-Star Game this year with Willson Contreras starting at catcher and Javier Baez at shortstop. Kris Bryant was also selected as a reserve.
Leading the bats for the Cubs have been those same names, although they have been getting help from everywhere in the lineup. Baez currently leads the team in home runs with 22, but it is worth noting the Cubs have five different hitters with more than 15 home runs this season and Jason Heyward right behind them with 14.
Needing A Boost
The White Sox are 41-43 right now and in third place in the American League Central. They are 12.5 games back from the Minnesota Twins and have a lot of work to do to make the postseason as they are six games back from a Wild Card spot. They will be looking to take these two games to win the season series and head into the All-Star break strong.
Pitching against the Cubs will be right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito. The young starter has had a great season for the White Sox so far with an 11-2 record, 2.72 ERA, and 115 strikeouts. He continued this in his last outing, allowing just one hit over five scoreless innings. Giolito leads the White Sox in ERA, wins, and strikeouts this season.
Jose Abreu leads the team in home runs with 20 and also runs batted in with 63. Their batting-average leader is a young rising star in starting shortstop Tim Anderson. The White Sox are 5-5 over their last 10 games and will look to take both games at home behind the power of their young stars.
What to expect
Both teams have been rocky lately, and, while the Cubs have the better roster and record, Giolito has been the more consistent pitcher. Being at home, I like the White Sox to upset the Cubs to start this short series in a low-scoring affair.