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Series Preview: The Crosstown Cup, July 24 – July 27, 2017

Series Previews

It’s the Crosstown Classic! … or Cup! Or the Mid-Summer Crosstown Night’s Dream Classic of a Cup!


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It’s the Cubs and the Sox playing baseball at the same time … like, in the same place! Woot! Chicago’s two finest baseball teams are squaring off  this week, with the first two games at Wrigley Field and the latter two at Guaranteed Rate.

And while I’m not one of those White Sox hating/bashing Cubs fans, I do hope the North Siders bury them this week – like utter humiliation and destruction. After all, the Sox have plenty to look forward to, given their impressive cache of prospects, but for at least one more season, I don’t want anyone in Chicago to forget which team is the defending World Series champs.

In case you’ve forgotten, the White Sox technically hold the “cup,” thanks to their series win back in 2014 and splits over the last two seasons. Let’s see if the Cubs can get that back, eh?

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (51-46) have roared out to an 8-1 start here in the second half of the season. After exiting the All-Star break with a 5.5 game deficit, they now reside in first place of the NL Central. They are also, for the first time this season, five games over .500.


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The Chicago White Sox (38-57) have traded away a bunch of their best players … and it shows. They’ve now lost nine straight games, including all eight after the break, and the last game before it. They are in last place of the AL Central and 12.5 games back of first.

Game Times and Broadcasts

Location: Wrigley Field

  • Monday, July 24 at 1:20 CT on ABC-7, 670 The Score
  • Tuesday, July 25 at 1:20 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score

Location: Guaranteed Rate Field

  • Wednesday, July 26 at 7:10 CT on ABC-7, ESPN, 670 The Score
  • Thursday, July 27 at 7:1- CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Lineup or Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Chicago Cubs

Starters:

  • Kyle Hendricks (4.09 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 4.09 xFIP; 2.43 K/BB)
  • John Lackey (5.04 ERA, 5.71 FIP, 4.64 xFIP; 2.72 K/BB)
  • Jake Arrieta (4.11 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 4.03 xFIP; 2.92 K/BB)
  • Jon Lester (3.95 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 3.54 xFIP; 3.32 K/BB)

Approximate Lineup*:

  1. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Willson Contreras, C
  5. Kyle Schwarber, LF
  6. Ian Happ, CF
  7. Jason Heyward, RF
  8. Addison Russell, SS
  9. Pitcher

* Both the Cubs and White Sox will utilize designated hitters for the second half of the Cross Town Cup. Javier Baez will also mix in at shortstop and/or second base.


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Chicago White Sox

Starters:

  • Miguel Gonzalez (4.89 ERA, 5.13 FIP, 5.56 xFIP; 1.61 K/BB)
  • Carlos Rodon (5.75 ERA, 6.59 FIP, 5.15 xFIP; 1.33 K/BB)
  • James Shields (5.79 ERA, 6.84 FIP, 6.25 xFIP; 1.36 K/BB)
  • Mike Pelfrey (4.46 ERA, 5.32 FIP, 5.39 xFIP; 1.33 K/BB)

Approximate Lineup:

  1. Tyler Saldino, SS
  2. Melky Cabrera, LF
  3. Jose Abreu, 1B
  4. Avisail Garcia, RF
  5. Yoan Moncada, 2B
  6. Omar Narvaez, C
  7. Yolmer Sanchez, 3B
  8. Adam Engel, CF
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Chicago Cubs – Pitching

The Cubs’ starters own a 2.41 ERA in the second half of the season, which is good for second best in all of baseball. With that said, I should point out that their 4.13 FIP is a good deal behind that, though still 12th best in baseball (6th best in the NL).

We mustn’t forget about the effects of the current juiced-ball era.

The biggest story this week is Kyle Hendricks return to the mound for the Cubs, but we’ll talk about his last starts before going down with a hand injury later today in the Pre-Gamin’.


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Instead, for now, we’ll highlight the fact that John Lackey has made back-to-back solid starts, after getting blown up against the Washington Nationals at the end of June. And, in fact, the two starts before that were each 6.0 IP, 1ER efforts, as well. Perhaps he’s turning a corner and just had one tough game in the middle. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Chicago Cubs – Offense

There’s been a lot of great performances lately, so I’ll rattle them a few bullet-style:

  • Kyle Schwarber has been fantastic since he’s returned from Triple-A Iowa (124 wRC+).
  • Willson Contreras is a bona-fide offensive-force. He’s got a .297/.360/.568 slash line since May 9 (that’s 215 plate appearances ago!).
  • Addison Russell has turned his season around big-time, with a .289/.333/.513 slash line since June 22. Even better, he’s really showing some serious power over that stretch (.224 ISO, 3 HRs, 8 2Bs).

The one will take a bit further than a bullet, however, is Jason Heyward.

While Heyward’s overall production continues to inch closer to league average, that’s almost become an afterthought given how dominant he’s been lately. Right now, Heyward’s working on a five-game hit streak that immediately followed a four-gamer just before that.

And, in the second half of the season, Heyward is hitting a laughable .364/.400/.634, which is good for a 166 wRC+.


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Chicago White Sox – Pitching

When I was rummaging through the Sox starters for this week, I noticed something that’s pretty wild:

Obviously, you always have to be careful with a former stud like James Shields or a young, up-side starter like Carlos Rodon, but honestly, the Cubs’ bats should obliterate the Sox pitching this week.

The on-paper matchup couldn’t be stronger. Let’s just hope real life follows suit.

Chicago White Sox – Offense

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m genuinely excited to see Yoan Moncada this week. The former Red Sox prospect (and top international talent) came over to the South Side this winter in the Chris Sale trade and just made his White Sox debut five days ago.

He’s gone just 1-13 at the plate, though that “1” was a triple and he’s also walked twice and struck out just once. The hits will start to fall soon, and his power is real. Let’s see what he does with it this week. Hopefully not much, I guess.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.