Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (59-38) @ Chicago White Sox (48-50)

In Series Previews by dmick8954 Comments

The Cubs and White Sox kick off a four game series that is split between US Cellular Field and Wrigley Field. The series begins with two on the south side and then moves to Wrigley Field on Wednesday and Thursday. The Sox got off to a great start and early on were nearly matching what the Cubs were doing, but they fell off quickly. Now they’re in the middle of figuring out what pieces to sell. Chris Sale isn’t named as the starter on Thursday, but if he’s still with the White Sox by then, he’ll probably  make that start. Or maybe he’ll cut up some more uniforms. It’s difficult to tell with him.

The Cubs will have a new face in the bullpen (one that a lot of people would like to punch) and their new look bullpen should turn a lot of games into 6-inning games.

Team Leaders

Cubs (200 PA)

Once Aroldis Chapman officially joins the team, he’ll have the lead in most of the relief categories. His K/9 is 12.64 and his BB/9 is 2.30 (Rondon still has the advantage here). His FIP is 1.93.

White Sox

Todd Frazier has hit a ton of home runs, but he’s done nothing else. He has less than 1 fWAR.

Pitching matchups

K/9, BB/9, ERA, FIP, projected ERA listed for each pitcher.

Monday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (9.57, 3.26, 2.60, 2.93, 2.86) vs Miguel Gonzalez, RHP (6.83, 3.31, 4.41, 4.11, 4.65), 7:10 PM CT

Arrieta had a stretch of four starts where he threw a total of 21.1 innings before his last start on the 19th. Going into that start, he was coming off of his worst stretch in a year. In those 21.1 innings, he allowed 25 hits and 17 runs. He gave up 4 home runs. That was more than he’d given up the rest of the season combined. In his last start he was more like the Arrieta we have loved over the past couple years. He hasn’t been the same pitcher this year that he was last year. His walk rate is up quite a bit, but he’s still been effective. He’s just not been able to go as deep into games despite throwing a lot of pitches. He has walked only 2 over his last 13 innings so hopefully he’s found that control again and if he has, look out.

Despite cutting his home runs per 9 down by about half this season, Gonzalez still hasn’t been all that effective. He’s had trouble stranding runners, but he’s mostly just a meh pitcher. There’s nothing too special about him. He’s had a couple of horrible starts this season, but for the most part has been giving up about 3 runs per start and going about 6 innings. He had a 3 game stretch where he threw 15.1 innings and allowed 22 hits and 16 runs. Since then he’s thrown 26 innings, allowed 17 hits and 10 runs. He throws two types of fastballs, a slider, a curve and a change.

Tuesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (7.78, 2.43, 2.27, 3.32, 3.58) vs James Shields, RHP (6.32, 3.75, 4.99, 5.26, 4.59), 6:10 PM CT

I think everyone would agree on two things about Kyle Hendricks: he’s having a great season and he’s been lucky. I’ll only add a couple of things that I didn’t say last time. First, his ERA last year was inflated by 69.9% left on base percentage and 12.4% home run per fly rate. This year he’s stranded 77.7% of the runners (he stranded 78.5% in 2014) and his HR/FB rate is 8.7%. He probably won’t strand quite that many runner and his HR/FB rate will probably go up just a bit. His BABIP will also go up so I guess I said more than a couple things. One more thing, though, Since 2I015, Kyle Hendricks ranks 25th in K-BB%, which in my opinion is about the best, most simple stat for a pitcher. The list of the best makes sense. Clayton Kershaw is at the top by quite a bit followed by Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner.

That’s a pretty good list of the five best starters in baseball right there and all you needed was K-BB%. Jake Arrieta is 10th, Jon Lester is 13th, Jason Hammel is 22nd and Kyle Hendricks is 25th. Hendricks is one spot ahead of Cole Hamels and 4 spots ahead of John Lackey and Jake Odorizzi. He’s just behind Masahiro Tanaka, Hammel, Dallas Keuchel and Johnny Cueto.

I’m not necessarily saying that’s where I’d rank Hendricks as a starter, but he’s actually pretty good at his job. He’s better than I think a lot of people give him credit for.

I have no idea why the White Sox traded for James Shields. That was one of the dumbest trades I’ve seen. All Shields has done this season is see his strikeout rate shrink considerably and he’s posted he worst season since 2010 and arguably the worst season in his career. He has been better over his last 5 starts. He’s thrown 34.1 innings over that span and given up 28 hits and 8 runs.

Wednesday: Jacob Turner, RHP (9.82, 8.59, 14.73, 7.78, 4.79) vs Jason Hammel, RHP (7.55, 2.77, 3.35, 4.37, 3.97), 7:05 PM CT

After making 18 mostly unimpressive starts in AAA for the White Sox, they called him up and he’s made 2 starts for them. He’s thrown 7.1 innings, allowed 12 hits and 12 runs. He’s given up 2 home runs, walked 7 and struckout 8. He pitched with the Cubs in 2014 and made 8 appearances (6 starts). He threw 34.2 innings and started the trend for Cubs pitchers in the minor leagues to try and strikeout as few batters as possible. He struckout just 4.4 per 9. That’s about all I got.

After a strong start to the season, Hammel has cooled off somewhat. Maddon is back to taking him out early in games, which we know doesn’t make Hammel too happy. I imagine with the new and improved Cubs bullpen his starts will only be shorter. Maybe he won’t get that one final at-bat in a crucial situation that he never should have gotten. That would be nice. He’s been OK over his few starts. The start before that he gave up 10 runs in 4 innings. It’s not often that a starter gives up 10 runs. To put that into a little perspective, in the final 13 starts of the season last year for Jake Arrieta, he gave up 9 runs total.

Thursday: Chris Sale, LHP (8.73, 1.96, 3.18, 3.70, 3.23) vs John Lackey, RHP (9.16, 2.76, 3.79, 3.87, 3.56), 7:05 PM CT

There’s a lot of trade talk going on about Chris Sale right now and he’s not listed as the starter on the White Sox website. He made history over the weekend for becoming the first player in baseball history to be suspended for cutting up the team’s uniforms. The White Sox suspended him for 5 days and his final day of suspension is Wednesday.

While there’s a lot of trade talk for Sale and rightly so, some teams should be a bit concerned about dealing for him. His strikeout rate has gone from 30.4% in 2014 and 32.1% in 2015 to 24.5% in 2016. It’s the lowest it’s ever been in his career (24.9% in 2012 was the lowest). His walk rate is still excellent and he’s not allowing any more baserunners thanks an unsustainable BABIP of .257. His ERA looks shiny at 3.18, but his FIP is a full run higher and so is his xFIP. He’s also giving up a few more home runs per 9 innings than he ever has.

Still, Sale is one of the best pitchers in the game and he’s coming off an 8-inning, 1-hit outing against the Mariners. However, his start before that (just before the All Star break), he pitched 5 innings, allowed 10 hits and 8 runs and he gave up 3 home runs. He’s had 2 starts this year in which he allowed 3 home runs. Once again comparing to Jake Arrieta, going back to 2014, Arrieta has had only one start in which he allowed 3 home runs. That was on May 29th of last year against the Royals. He’s had only 2 other starts in which he allowed 2 home runs (both of them this season). Think about that for a moment next time you consider how good Arrieta has been.

John Lackey has not been very good lately. He’s been bad enough while Hendricks has been good enough that we’ve wondered who would start game 3 in the playoffs. I still think it’s Lackey. He’s had a rough patch lately, but he’s had only 2 starts this year where he’s failed to pitch 6 innings. That matters. There are several games where he’d probably have been pulled earlier if it was the playoffs, but even when he’s struggling, he still finds ways to go deep into games. I’m not sure Hendricks is capable of that or at least we haven’t seen whether or not he is anyway. Lackey hasn’t won since early June.

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  1. Smokestack Lightning

    SK: I wasn’t courting anyone that year.

    Then obviously you are lying about that 1884 runner-up, and you must have won Comeback Boyfriend of the Year.

    Which is nothing to be ashamed of.

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  2. cerulean

    I noticed people claiming to be against domestic violence who consider any and all such acts to be unforgivable. So I thought I’d pile on ?:

    I, for one, cannot abide someone who makes mistakes. People do not and cannot change, therefore, he should publicly castrated for his folly, then placed in a gibbet on display as a reminder to all that we have zero tolerance for any and all domestic violence.

    Absurd, yes. Hostility promotes hostility.

    As a pacifist and a feminist, two words that fundamentally misrepresent their underlying meanings, such response in kind is antithetical to those meanings. And as an imperfect contradiction, I am too often at odds with such lofty sentiments.

    So forgiveness is key. Forgiving Chapman is easier than forgiving myself.

    Of course, Chapman is a public figure, and these actions among others cast aspersions on his character. It seems like we are promoting an asshole of questionable morality based his skills alone, nullifying any reparations that have already been made—like losing a sixth of his salary—almost $2M. And we are. That’s why we need to talk about domestic violence and rape and depression and everything else that stems from a tangled world of fucked-ups and accidents.

    But we need to forgive too. The big christian kind of forgiveness—you know, the kind promoted by the God on our currency that the majority professes to believe in—action and politics excepted.

    The only way to undo a knot by force is by cutting it. I would prefer that not be the metaphor for how we deal with anybody, including the worst of us, because it is trivially easy to justify doing something wrong. Harder is justifying doing something right.

    Especially for ?.

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  3. Author

    I’ll look into custom icons tomorrow if this plugin works out well enough. Probably won’t be able to do a anything like changing colors based on comment vote without heavily modifying the code and I’m not doing that.

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  4. cerulean


    I agree except for the Goddy stuff.

    Which to say that we probably agree. People would call me an atheist. (Another term I despise for its misrepresentation of meaning.) I personally believe that I became more christian when my 99% centainty of God’s presence broke to reveal a 100% certainty of God’s absence.

    But that is personal. Every child re-creates the world, and in such re-creation there is plenty of room for deities and the like. In many ways, I am worse for having that belief broken in me.

    Even so, I find myself more closely identifying with a depressive misfit who sought meaningful change and was instead forsaken by his society. Not a better person, not a holier person, just more like the man who was just a man that I will never meet in the clouds, much to my dismay.

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  5. cerulean


    That plugin we used before doesn’t worth with this theme. It’s way too old. I did say I’d look around and forgot about that.

    These blue thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs are too damn small. As a Trump supporter with tiny hands, I find them offensive. (dying laughing)

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  6. GW

    berselius: I think most of the Lackey stuff comes from him being a red-assed Texas good ol’ boy wannabe cowboy, nothing to do with Boston.

    I thought he was from Oklahoma

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  7. Rizzo the Rat

    These AL park games really make me miss Schwarber. Though, IIRC, Joe preferred to use Soler in the DH spot.

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  8. Author

    We’ve talked about how if the Cubs win the world series nobody is going to care about who the Cubs gave up and that’s certainly true. It’s probably true even in the long run. What if it blows up in their face? What if the “chemistry” is all out of whack and shit goes sideways in every way possible? With a guy like Chapman, that’s possible just as it was entirely possible it would happen with Milton Bradley. Everything that could have gone wrong did. I hope we don’t get to find out what Cubdom would be like if that happened, but I doubt next year’s Cubs love fest would be pretty for Ricketts, Theo and Hoyer.

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  9. umbra

    As a more Goddy-stuff oriented person on the board (proof: I complained to my brother about the lectionary and the Office of the Public Ministry tonight over a leisurely dinner), my take is that nothing is unforgivable, not even the murder of God incarnate. I’m not Chapman’s priest, I’m not his girlfriend, and I don’t know the state of his heart. I just don’t get the impression that he’s particularly repentant or contrite. Maybe Officially Released Written Statements are uniquely designed to make me doubt their sincerity, but I just don’t believe him. It’s not a problem of ‘poor judgment’, it’s a defect in the human condition and is usually extremely recalcitrant, whether it’s because he was modeled that as a kid or just has that violent part of him by nature. Maybe I’m not being fair to him, and maybe there’s nothing he can do to convince me he’s changed so why try, but ‘getting out ahead of the problem’ and releasing a very sober statement about how ‘serious’ this team takes these issues and saying that if you REALLY want to respect his family you’d mind your own business, those are all signs of CYA PR horseshit, not repentance, forgiveness, grace, spiritual regeneration, or love.

    I’m going to feel kinda crummy when he comes into the game, and if given the choice between watching a Definitely Shitty person win a game or watching a Probably Shitty person lose one, I honestly prefer the latter.

    That said, I also wish the Cubs could score some fucking runs.

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