Series Preview: Iowa Cubs of Chicago (29-42) at Chicago White Sox (35-38)

I’m surprised to see the White Sox with a near-.500 record. Last I remember seeing any news of them, they were mired in a crappy start to the season, and new acquisition Adam Dunn was redefining the definition of a disappointing free agent signing. They were 10-18 in April, and were completely overmatched by their competition in the second half of the month, winning three games while scoring just 36 runs to 80 runs allowed. They’ve bounced back somewhat in May and June but are climbing out of a deep hole. They’re ten 5.5 games back of the surprising Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.

Team Overviews

As always, team stats (and league rankings) are presented

Cubs Sox
wOBA .317 (7th) .318 (8th)
UBR -6.2 (16th) -2.9 (9th)
UZR -16 (15th) -10 (10th)
SP FIP 4.17 (14th) 3.58 (3rd)
RP FIP 4.13 (15th) 3.82 (7th)

Paul Konerko (.418) and Carlos Quentin (.397) have basically carried the lousy Sox offense. Konerko is a guy I think is finally going to break down every year but he keeps producing, so kudos to Sox managment for recognizing it. It’s hard to believe that Adam Dunn is slugging .335. Adam Dunn! Despite his poor performance, three other regulars have provided much more suck to the lineup. Juan Pierre, LF (dying laughing) has put up a .257/.319/.300 line in 317 PAs (-9.3 runs), Brent Morel, 3B has put up a .248/.262/.315 line in 168 PAs (-8.9 runs), and most of all Alex Rios, CF has put up a putrid .209/.261/.324 line in 272 PAs (-12.2 runs). Even the Brewers “black hole of offense” players I like to rag on (Yuni, Gomez, LuCroy) haven’t managed to hurt their team as much as those three (though McGehee is picking up some of the slack this year).

The Sox starting pitching has been quote good, and their best performing pitcher has surprisingly been Phil Humber, who has filled in for glass-armed Jake Peavy. Danks is the only starter with a FIP over 4, so they might have a tough time picking who to demote when Peavy comes back (possibly this series). Danks was hit by a line drive in his last start but was cleared by doctors. Given how well Humber has pitched I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to package one of their starters to find a bat – their hole at 3B is especially glaring. Too bad Aramis Ramirez‘s power fell off the face of the earth this year. They’re ten five and a half games out but given how weak the division is (I still don’t think many believe in Cleveland) they still have a decent shot at winning it.

Pitching Matchups

ERA, FIP, xFIP, and ZiPS projected FIP in parens.

Monday: Carlos Zambrano, RHP (4.59, 3.82, 4.12, 3.71) vs Gavin Floyd, RHP (3.94, 3.65, 3.61, 3.55), 7:10 PM CT, CSN

As usual there’s not much to say about Z that hasn’t already been said around here. I hope he gets traded to some contending team, and takes out a full page ad thanking the city of Chicago for his years here….right next to another full page ad consisting of him giving the finger to Paul Sullivan.

As mentioned above, Floyd was hit by a line drive in his last start but all the scans came back negative, so he’s okay. After a rocky start to his career with the Phillies, he’s turned into a boringly good pitcher with the White Sox. Seriously, looking at his numbers there’s nothing I can praise or criticize. He has solidly above-average stats across the board. If I could pinpoint anything it’s that he has great control, averaging roughly 2.6 BB/9 or so over the past three seasons.

Tuesday: Matt Garza, RHP (4.14, 2.75, 2.90, 3.79) vs Mark Buehrle, LHP (3.75, 3.84, 4.30, 3.97), 7:10 PM CT, WGN/CSN (not sure which is Cubs feed)

Garza continued his poor strikout trend in his last start, striking out only three Brewers in his last start while walking three. He did however keep up his baffling season-long streak of getting ground-balls, which I like to see.

Buehrle has quiely been a merely average pitcher for the past three seasons. His pinpoint control has remained but his strikeout rate has consistenly been around a comically low 4.4 K/9 or so since 2009. He’s managed to keep the ball in the park and the ball more or less on the ground, but I’m surprised by his continued success at this point.

Wednesday: Doug Davis, LHP (4.95, 3.41, 4.25, 4.13) vs Jake Peavy, RHP (4.66, 2.98, 3.42, 3.18), 7:10 PM CT WCIU

Hey, so I guess I was sort of right about the last series. The Cubs won the first game because the Cubs washed-up mid-30s pitcher beat his counterpart. As Harry Pavlidis pointed out on twitter, it was actually one of Davis’s crummier outings. He just got lucky on his balls in play. I guess it has to bounce that way for the Cubs every once in awhile (laughing).

Peavy was injured to start the season, and came back in May to make five starts before hitting the DL again. He’s expected to be back for this start but he’s still a work in progress. Maybe he’s okay though – he struck out nine batters in six innings in last week’s rehab start, giving up two hit and walking none.


Cubs lose two out of three yet again. I would also love to see this happen again


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We're gonna make it.