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Series Preview: Chicago White Sox (15-17) vs Chicago Cubs (11-18)

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As far as I can tell, the Crosstown Cup no longer has BP as a sponsor. Fear not, I’m sure we’ll find out tonight that the Cubs sold the naming rights to Donald Sterling two weeks ago.

As awful as the Cubs have been this year, they only have a -6 run differential. The Phillies actually have a worse one (-11) but a winning record. The White Sox, meanwhile have been a medium-sized story amongst Thoyer detractors since they’re bouncing back to respectability thanks to the bat of Jose Abreu and that Chris Sale guy, who the Cubs are dodging this week thanks to a flexor muscle strain. Of course, it’s not like the Cubs had any reason to shell out money for a new 1b, and a relatively unproven one at that (or for that matter, it’s not like the Cubs haven’t been spending on international FAs). What Abreu’s done is amazeballs but I don’t think anyone expected this. That said, the White Sox also have a losing record and a negative run differential (-4), but I guess they’re more fun to watch.

Team Overviews

MLB ranks in parens

Cubs

  • wRC+: 80 (29th)
  • BSR: 1.9 (8th)
  • UZR: -1.8 (16th)
  • DRS: 3 (11th)
  • SP FIP-: 86 (2nd)
  • RP FIP-: 112 (23rd)

White Sox:

  • wRC+: 104 (9th)
  • BSR: -3.3 (26th)
  • UZR: -6.4 (23rd)
  • DRS: -4 (15th)
  • SP FIP-: 109 (14th)
  • RP FIP-: 103 (18th)

News, Notes, Blood Oaths, etc.

Ryan Sweeney is expected to be sidelined for 3-4 weeks with his hamstring injury. The guy that probably would have replaced him on the roster if he wasn’t recently injured himself, Brett Jackson, just came off the minor league DL over the weekend.

The White Sox are a little banged up, with Chris Sale on the DL as well as not-that-Adam Eaton, the centerpiece of their big offseason trade. They’ve been scuffling in general lately, and just ended a 4 game losing streak with a win in the Cleve yesterday.

Jose Abreu is having an incredible year, so much that even someone who lives under a rock as far as AL baseball is concerned knows about it. He’s batting .258/.319/.617 on the season, with 12 HR and a whopping 34 RBI.

Brett has a good piece about the Cubs and White Sox respective rebuilding processes.

Pitching matchups

Current ERA, projected FIP, current xFIP listed for each pitcher.

Monday: Jose Quintana, LHP (4.00, 3.93, 3.33) vs Jeff Samardzija, RHP (1.98, 3.50, 3.72), 7:05 PM CT

Shark wasn’t as sharp in his last outing as he’s been earlier in the year, walking four and giving up eight hits in 5+ innings. It was the first time this season that he’s failed to make it to the end of the 7th inning. So far this season he’s seen a big drop in his strikeout rate, which has fallen to 6.8 K/9 from last year’s 9.01. He mentioned earlier in the year that he’s changed his approach somewhat in a bid to go deeper into games and now isn’t trying to strike out the planet. So far it looks like it’s going well, and his walk rate has dropped too.

Quintana seems like a great under the radar pitcher. He gets a decent amount of strikeouts and does a great job limiting walks. Batters have hit him somewhat hard this year judging from his 25% LD rate and 68.4% strand rate, but somehow he’s limited the damage anyway. He’s got a decent cutter that he throws fairly often, but his primary weapon is his ~90 mph fastball. Given how the Cubs do against fastballs, I’m hoping Junior Lake has another big night.

Tuesday: Hector Noesi, RHP (11.12, 5.77, 4.28) vs Edwin Jackson, RHP (5.24, 3.77, 4.48), 7:05 PM CT

I’m guessing from those numbers that Noesi was the guy who was pushed into the rotation with Sale’s injuries. It hasn’t been pretty, and the projection systems aren’t really a fan either. He’s had some bad luck as seen from his .419 BABIP, but it’s not like batters aren’t hitting him hard.

Jackson continues to get crushed by enemy batters and put up mediocre strikeout rates. He’s struggled with his command all year. Luckily he’s managed to keep the ball in the yard, though he did give up his first homer in his last start.

Wednesday: Travis Wood, LHP (3.35, 4.09, 3.43) vs John Danks, RHP (5.00, 4.98, 5.51), 7:10 PM CT

Danks was a rotation mainstay for the Sox, posting about 15 fWAR from 2008-2011. In 2012 he hit the DL with a shoulder tear and hasn’t been the same since. His strikeout rate has dropped significantly, and has gone from ~ 7 K/9 down to ~5 K/9, and his fastball velocity has dipped a few mph as well. The Sox signed him to a 5/65 extension back in 2011, bad luck for them that it’s turned out this way.

Wood’s still cruising along, throwing a ton of strikes and working fast, which is always nice to see. He’s only walked 7 batters in his 6 starts this year.

Thursday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (0.00, 4.64, 2.60) vs Scott Carroll, RHP (0.68, 3.93, 5.17), 7:10 PM CT

Arrieta looked pretty good in his first start of the year. His cutter was cutting and his fastball was right in line with his career averages. Most importantly he was throwing strikes, though it wouldn’t be an Arrieta start without a walk or two, and we all know that walks always hurt. Always. Those two walks went on to score zero runs.

Carroll’s made two starts this year, his first season in the bigs. He turns 30 this year so he’s not a prospect, but he’s done pretty well for himself in the run prevention department so far. However, he’s also struck out just three batters in those two starts combined. We don’t have a ton of pfx data on him yet, but he looks like a junkballer, throwing a fair amount of sinkers, cutters, and changeups to go with his 88 mph fastball.

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About berselius

How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

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