Series Preview: Cubs vs. White Sox, July 25 – July 28, 2016

white sox logo

Well there certainly is a lot going on around the Cubs stove right now, isn’t there?

Against the back drop of three straight series victories, a significant trade for Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, and Chris Sale jersey-slicing, the Cubs are about to begin a four game series against the Chicago White Sox.

Well, to be more accurate, they’re going to play two, two-game series in a row, but we’re going to preview everything at once. The first two games kick off tonight at U.S. Cellular Field, and then they’ll swing by the North Side to finish the final two at Wrigley Field. Everything you need to know about the four game match-up is listed below, so, you know, enjoy.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (59-38) have won three straight series, after taking the final game against the Pirates before the break. While they were on a bit a of down note near the end of June/beginning of July, it appears that they’ve turned a corner. With the Cardinals’ loss yesterday, the Cubs have a 7.5 game lead in the NL Central.

The Chicago White Sox (48-50) just took three out of five from the Tigers (four game series, plus finishing up a suspended game), after losing two out of three to the Mariners and three straight against the Angels. They are in fourth place (8.5 games back) in the AL Central and are 6.5 games back from a Wild Card spot.

[adinserter block=”1″]

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, July 25 at 7:10 CT on ABC 7, 670 The Score
  • Tuesday, July 26 at 6:10 CT on CSN-C, ESPN, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, July 27 at 7:05 CT on WGN, ESPN, 670 The Score
  • Thursday, July 28 at 7:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Expected Starters and Lineups

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

    Chicago Cubs


  • Jake Arrieta (2.60 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 3.33 xFIP; 2.93 K/BB)
  • Kyle Hendricks (2.27 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 3.77 xFIP; 3.20 K/BB)
  • Jason Hammel (3.35 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 4.28 xFIP; 2.73 K/BB)
  • John Lackey (3.79 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 3.82 xFIP; 3.33 K/BB)
  • Approximate Lineup:

    1. Dexter Fowler, CF
    2. Kris Bryant, 3B (or LF)
    3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
    4. Ben Zobrist, LF (or 2B)
    5. Willson Contreras, C
    6. Jason Heyward, RF
    7. Javy Baez, 2B (OR 3B)
    8. Addison Russell, SS
    9. Pitcher/DH

    [adinserter block=”2″]

    Chicago White Sox


  • Miguel Gonzalez (4.41 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 4.63 xFIP; 2.07 K/BB)
  • James Shields (4.99 ERA, 5.26 FIP, 4.86 xFIP; 1.69 K/BB)
  • Jacob Turner (14.73 ERA, 7.78 FIP, 5.37 xFIP; 1.14 K/BB)
  • Chris Sale (3.18 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 3.69 xFIP; 4.55 K/BB)
  • Approximate Lineup:

    1. Adam Eaton, RF
    2. Tim Anderson, SS
    3. Melky Cabrera, LF
    4. Jose Abreu, 1B
    5. Justin Morneau, DH
    6. Todd Frazier, 3B
    7. Dioner Navarro, C
    8. J.B. Shuck, CF
    9. Tyler Saladino, 2B

    Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

    Chicago Cubs – Pitching

    I know you’ll want something on Aroldis Chapman here, but we’re going to get to that later today in greater details. For now, we’re gonna talk about Kyle Hendricks.

    Hendricks has pitched phenomenally well this summer, culminating in the lowest ERA on the Cubs and third lowest ERA in all of baseball. Now, you know me, I’m an advanced statistics/sabermetrically-inclined person, and I know ERA isn’t everything. In fact, it’s far from it. However, it would be unfair to Hendricks not to point out how well he’s done. Further, we know that a big part of his game is inducing weak contact (something he’s been exceptionally good at this year) and those types of pitchers can often be undervalued by measures like FIP and WAR. So, while he’s certainly not the best pitcher in baseball (let alone best on the Cubs), Hendricks has done quite well for himself and I think some level of success is quite sustainable.

    In Hendricks last three appearances (two starts and one out of the pen 14.1 IP), by the way, he’s allowed zero earned runs on 10 hits, just 4 walks, while striking out 11.

    Chicago Cubs – Offense

    Are you ready for your smile-inducing Javy Baez update? Since June 1 (156 plate appearances), Baez is slashing .308/.353/.514 with seven home runs, nine doubles, six stolen bases, a 25.6% strikeout rate, and a 4.5% walk rate. I’m not sure at what point we’ll decide to say he’s killing it on offense, end-of-story (and not designate it to a specific period), but we can’t be too far away. Some of that is wisely-chosen match-ups against lefties (he’s crushed them), but a lot of it is simply Baez improving his game. With Russell stepping out of the lineup with a heel bruise during yesterday’s game, we may see more of Baez at shortstop over the next week.

    In July, Willson Contreras has come back down to Earth a bit, slashing just .250/.341/.417 in 82 plate appearances. Worse, his strikeout rate has spiked to 29.3%, which is mighty high for that level of slugging. Still, this is a bit of a small sample, and he doesn’t really look overmatched at the plate. As a rookie catcher with fewer than 130 plate appearances in the Major Leagues, I’d say he’ll be just fine.

    [adinserter block=”3″]

    Chicago White Sox  – Pitching

    The Cubs should have the pitching advantage in the first three games of this two-part series, until Chris Sale takes the mound against Jason Hammel on Thursday. Although, to be sure Sale hasn’t quite been his usual, dominant self in 2016, and is currently working off a five-game suspension. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still been quite good, but he’s certainly taken a step backwards from the past few years, especially with regards to striking batters out.

    Take a look:

  • Chris Sale ’14: 2.17 ERA/2.57 FIP/2.83 xFIP; 30.4% K-rate, 5.7% BB-rate
  • Chris Sale ’15: 3.41 ERA/2.73 FIP/2.60 xFIP; 32.1% K-rate, 4.9% BB-rate
  • Chris Sale ’16: 3.18 ERA/3.70 FIP/3.69 xFIP; 24.5% K-rate, 5.5% BB-rate
  • While he’s gotten mostly good results, the peripherals are inarguably worse. With all of that said, in his last start, Sale went 8.0 innings, giving up just 1 hit and 3 walks, while fanning six Mariners. Dude can still cut through a lineup. [Brett: Yup, I see it.]

    Chicago White Sox – Offense

    We looked at one recently great member of the White Sox take a step back this year in Sale, now let’s look at another one in Jose Abreu. Without looking, what would you guess Abreu’s slash line looks like right now? How many home runs do you think he has? How much WAR has he been worth?

    If you haven’t been paying close attention, I’ll bet you’ll be surprised:

  • Slash line: .273/.331/.427 (98 wRC+)
  • Home Runs: 11
  • WAR: -0.1
  • Yup. Abreu has been about 2% worse than the average hitter, has only 11 home runs – after hitting 66 in his first two seasons combined – and has been worth negative WAR (due in large part to his shaky defense at first base). You can’t pitch to him like he’s some sort of replacement level player, by any means, but the power from 2014 (.264 ISO) and 2015 (.212 ISO) has completely disappeared this season (.154 ISO).

    That said, Abreu has hit a bit (and gotten on base) in July (.319/.375/.417), but the power is still not there, and he hasn’t hit a home run since June 23 (106 plate appearances). Hopefully, that streak lasts for four more games.

    written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

    more cubs news

    Spring Training Miscellany: Double Debuts for Cooper and Smith, Wicks Effective, Thompson Appears, More

    The Cubs dropped this one to the Padres 2-1, with Padres pitchers absolutely mowing down Cubs hitters. Jhony Brito and Matt Waldron combined for 7.1 innings of one-run ball, striking out 12(!). Jordan Wicks continued his spring of effective starts,...

    Chicago Cubs Lineup: Morel at 3B, Smith and Cooper Make Their Debuts

    *HOMAGE is excited to reissue the iconic CUBS STARTER SATIN JACKET in an exclusive limited edition release. A certified nineties throwback, these exclusive vintage-inspired jackets are built for the dugout, with all the classic details of the original. Get your...

    Sonny Gray Leaves Spring Training Start with Hamstring Tightness

    Just as we would with a Cubs player dealing with a mild hamstring issue at this point in the spring (for example, Ian Happ), I don't know that you'd yet start thinking TOO many things about an injury on the...

    Shota Imanaga’s Fastball and a Geographic-Geographic Adjustment

    Shota Imanaga made his U.S./Cubs/Spring Training debut this weekend, throwing 2.1 innings and 40-ish pitches as he begins to stretch out for the MLB season ahead. As we discussed, you can't take too much away from the results, but it...

    Latest Top-100 Prospect List Has Six Cubs in the Top 68

    One of the last-arriving (but well-contemplated) preseason top-100 prospect lists dropped this morning over at Prospects Live. 16. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF17. Cade Horton, RHP29. Matt Shaw, INF54. Kevin Alcántara, OF65. Michael Busch, INF68. Owen Caissie, OF The Cubs have...

    Taillon to Throw, Tauchman on the Squad, Bench, Hendricks, ‘Go Cubs Go’, and Other Cubs Bullets

    It feels like we're getting close to the first cuts of the spring. I would tentatively expect them to come this week. Sounds like we'll see Cody Bellinger make his spring debut on Wednesday, per Ron Coomer. Part of the...

    Zack Wheeler Reportedly Signing Multiyear Extension with the Philadelphia Phillies (UPDATE)

    It just didn't feel like he was going to hit the market, especially after the Phillies stepped up so aggressively to retain Aaron Nola, and now it's done: Zack Wheeler will not be a free agent after this season. Per...

    Spring Training Miscellany: Cleveland Blew a 3-1 Lead, Hendricks a Little Wild, Bullpen Perfect, Alcántara, Mastrobuoni, More

    Technically Cleveland blew a 3-0 lead that became a 3-1 lead, but the 3-1 joke is always better. A trio of homers did in the Guardians, and the Cubs won 5-3. This was the comeback blow, from annual spring MVP...

    Cubs vs Guardians: Lineups, Pitching Matchup, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

    *HOMAGE is excited to reissue the iconic CUBS STARTER SATIN JACKET in an exclusive limited edition release. A certified nineties throwback, these exclusive vintage-inspired jackets are built for the dugout, with all the classic details of the original. Get your...

    Postseason Odds, Phillies and Snell, Cooper, Happ, Acuña, and Other Cubs Bullets

    If you think about it, all I'm asking is for the Cubs to win a little more than half their games this year, and then win more than half of the games they play in October. That is a very...

    Latest News

    Celtics vs. Cavaliers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The Boston Celtics (48-12) will try to build on an 11-game win streak when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (39-21) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as 7.5-point favorites. The contest airs at 7:30 PM ET on...

    Knicks vs. Hawks Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The Atlanta Hawks (26-34) are just 2.5-point underdogs as they attempt to break a three-game road slide when they visit the New York Knicks (36-25) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at Madison Square Garden. The contest airs at 7:30 PM...

    76ers vs. Nets Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    Atlantic Division opponents square off when the Philadelphia 76ers (35-25) visit the Brooklyn Nets (24-37) at Barclays Center, starting at 7:30 PM ET on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. The Nets are 2.5-point underdogs in the game, the third matchup between...

    Mavericks vs. Pacers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The Dallas Mavericks (34-27) hit the court against the Indiana Pacers (34-28) as 4.5-point favorites on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 8:30 PM ET on BSSW. The over/under in the matchup is 246.Mavericks vs. Pacers OddsMavericks odds to win: -192Pacers...

    Knicks vs. Hawks Predictions, Best Bets and Odds – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The Atlanta Hawks (26-34) are only 2.5-point underdogs as they try to end a three-game road losing streak when they visit the New York Knicks (36-25) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at Madison Square Garden. The game airs at 7:30...

    Pelicans vs. Raptors Predictions, Best Bets and Odds – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The New Orleans Pelicans (36-25) are favored by 8.5 points against the Toronto Raptors (23-38) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 7:30 PM ET. The matchup airs on SN. The matchup's over/under is set at 228.5.Before you make an informed...

    How to Watch Stetson Hatters vs. Queens Royals: Live Stream or on TV

    ASUN play features the Stetson Hatters (19-12, 11-5 ASUN) at home against the Queens Royals (14-18, 7-9 ASUN) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 7:00 PM ET.In its previous game, Stetson lost to North Florida on Friday, 78-59. Its leading...

    How to Watch Texas A&M-Commerce Lions vs. Northwestern State Demons: Live Stream or on TV

    The Texas A&M-Commerce Lions (11-19, 5-12 Southland) host the Northwestern State Demons (9-21, 7-10 Southland) in Southland action at The Field House, beginning at 8:30 PM ET on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.Texas A&M-Commerce lost its most recent game to Lamar,...

    New Orleans vs. McNeese: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The McNeese Cowboys (27-3, 16-1 Southland) will try to continue an eight-game winning streak when they visit the New Orleans Privateers (9-21, 4-13 Southland) on March 6, 2024 at Lakefront Arena. The contest airs on ESPN+.New Orleans lost its previous...

    How to Watch Alabama A&M Bulldogs vs. Grambling Tigers: Live Stream or on TV

    The Grambling Tigers (16-13, 13-3 SWAC) will try to build on a five-game win streak when they visit the Alabama A&M Bulldogs (9-20, 8-8 SWAC) on March 7, 2024 at Alabama A&M Event Center. The game airs on Bull.On Saturday,...

    more cubs news