A couple of rivals from the great state of Illinois will square off on Saturday evening as the Chicago Cubs grapple with the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in game two of a three-game series.
Pitching Matchup: Jon Lester (7-6, 3.89 ERA) will toe the slab for the Cubs and he will be opposed by Lucas Giolito (11-2, 2.72 ERA).
Cubs Rout Pirates To End Skid
The National League Central is the weakest division in baseball As all five teams are within 3.5 games of the top spot. Since it has been such a weak division, the Cubs have been able to stay in a first-place tie with the Brewers, despite the fact that they have gone just 9-15 over their last 24 games. The Cubs just had a four-game losing streak going, but they snapped that with an 11-3 win at Pittsburgh on Thursday. The Cubs were outscored 29-11 during the first three games of that series. Despite that, the Cubs are still 8th in the league in run differential at +54. They are hoping that their 11 run outburst against the Pirates will get their inconsistent offense back on track.
Kris Bryant has not had a spectacular season thus far, but he had a big game in the win over the Pirates as the 1st baseman totaled four hits and an RBI, while scoring three runs. One hit was his 17th homer of the year. Willson Contreras (18) also went deep as a part of a three-hit, three-RBI game. Robel Garcia launched his first career homer in just his 2nd MLB game, while Albert Almora Jr. (8) also went deep in the contest for the Cubs who pounded out 15 hits. The beneficiary of all that offense was Jose Quintana, who allowed three ERs on six hits and a walk while striking out six in 7.0 innings of work to improve to 6-7 with a 4.19 ERA on the year. The Cubs are still just 17-26 on the road, but after this two-game set, they will return home for a homestand that has them playing three against the Pirates, three against the Reds and three against the Padres. After the break, the Cubs will have a shot at putting some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack in the Central.
Toeing the slab for the Cubs will be Jon Lester and he has gone 7-6 with a 3.89 ERA in 16 starts on the year, including 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA over his last three starts and 2-4 with a 5.67 ERA in seven starts on the road. Righties are hitting .265 off of Lester this year, while Lefties are batting .289 off the southpaw so far. In his career, he has gone 94-52 with a 3.63 ERA in 197 starts on the road and 23-17 with a 3.77 ERA in 61 starts during the month of July, plus 28-15 with a 3.31 ERA in 53 interleague starts. Lester has gone 10-6 with a 4.16 ERA in 18 career starts against the White Sox, including 8-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 11 starts here at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Cubs have been a solid offensive team so far as they come in ranked 9th in the league in scoring, putting up 5.09 rpg, while also ranking 13th in hitting at .254 and 7th in homers with 139. On the mound, they have been solid as they come in ranked 8th in the league in ERA at 4.13, while also ranking 14th in WHIP at 1.33 and 15th in K’s with 753. The bullpen ranks 13th in the league with a 4.26 ERA.
White Sox Look To Stay In AL Wildcard Race
Many around the league keep waiting for the Chicago White Sox to breakthrough. They have been stockpiling some young talent, but it hasn’t helped them in the standings of yet. Making it worse for them at the moment is that they recently lost their best p[layer in Tim Anderson and he will be out until mid-August. Despite their struggles and the fact that they are 12 games out of first in the American League Central, the White Sox are still very much alive for a wildcard berth as they currently sit just 6.0 games out of the 2nd slot in the AL. This is a huge series for the White Sox as they are taking on a Cubs team that has struggled on the road this year, plus the Sox know that after the break, they have an 11-game road trip which includes stops in Oakland, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay.
That trip after the break could determine if the White Sox will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. If you look at the Pythagorean WL record it will show that the Sox should be sellers. They are just two games under .500 for the year, but -70 in run differential (24th in the league) and that means they are playing like a 35-49 team. I would not bet on the Sox making the playoffs this year. Chicago had a three-game winning streak going, but they fell to the Tigers in the finale of that series at home by a score of 11-5. Taking the loss in that game was Reynaldo Lopez, who allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and no walks while striking out three in 5.1 innings of work. He is now 4-8 with a 6.34 ERA on the year. Eloy Jimenez (15) and Jose Rondon (3) both went deep and the pair combined to drive in all five of their runs. The White Sox are now 24-19 here at home for the year.
The White Sox will trot out ace Lucas Giolito in this one and he has gone 11-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 16 starts on the year, including 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in his last three starts and 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA in eight starts here at home. Righties are batting .220 off of Giolito this year, while lefties are hitting just a buck 59 off of him. In his career, he has gone 11-10 with a 5.16 ERA in 28 starts here at Guaranteed Rate Field and 2-1 with a 5.75 ERA in seven starts during the month of July, plus 1-4 with a 7.47 ERA in seven interleague starts. Giolito has gone 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs.
The White Sox have been rather poor on offense so far as they come in ranked 22nd in the league in scoring, putting up 4.43 rpg, while also ranking 10th in hitting at .257 and 25th in homers with 101. On the mound, they have been poor as they rank 26th in the league in ERA at 5.08, while also ranking 27th in WHIP at 1.45 and 29th in K’s with 662. Their pen ranks 18th in ERA at 4.59.
The White Sox are:
- 8-20 in their last 28 vs. the National League Central.
- 4-10 in their last 14 interleague home games vs. a team with a winning record
The Cubs are:
- 42-11 in Lester’s last 53 starts vs. a team with a losing record.
- 29-8 in Lester’s last 37 starts during game 1 of a series