Cubs-White Sox: North Siders Have Clear Edge on South Side

Friday, September 21, 2018 5:52 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 21, 2018 5:52 PM UTC

The Chicago Cubs look to take one step closer to winning another NL Central title as they head across town to face the White Sox on Saturday night.

Chicago Cubs at Chicago White SoxSaturday, 7:10 p.m. ET (MLB Network)Free MLB Picks: Cubs RL & OverBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Sure, winning their second Commissioner’s Trophy (presented to World Series winner) in three years would be nice for the Chicago Cubs, but what’s much more important is to take the Crosstown Cup against the White Sox. The Windy City teams play Game 2 of their series on the South Side Saturday night. It should be a rare sellout at Guaranteed Rate Field, although probably more Cubs fans.

Obviously, that was sarcasm about the Crosstown Cup, which the Cubs won last year for the first time since sweeping four games in 2013. The Cubbies, who took two of three at home vs. the White Sox from May 11-13, are focused on clinching the NL Central title and securing home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. It’s looking good on both fronts. The White Sox, meanwhile, are in full-on rebuild and playing out the string. They did, though, alter their rotation a bit to ensure their best guys were going against the Cubs.

The Cubs will add the DH for this interleague series, which is a nice benefit because it gets Kyle Schwarber out of left field and into that DH spot – where he belongs. Monitor whether the White Sox will have their best hitter, Jose Abreu. He missed the early-week series vs. Cleveland because of an infection in his thigh. As of Friday, Abreu was three homers shy of becoming the ninth player in MLB history to hit at least 25 dingers in each of his first five seasons. He probably would already be there but spent three weeks on the DL earlier in the season after undergoing surgery to repair a testicular torsion. I don’t know what that is, but ouch.

Assuming the Cubs do win the division, they likely won’t play a game outside of Chicago again until Sunday, Oct. 7, which would be Game 3 of the NLDS. That’s great for a team that just finished a stretch of 30 straight days with a scheduled game (because of postponements/makeup games).

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Pitching, Mental Game, Having a Plan to Attack Hitters. Jon Lester.


— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 16, 2018

Lester Back in Form

It’s lefty Jon Lester (16-6, 3.43) for the Cubs, and I promise you he’s thrilled that he doesn’t have to hit. Lester had a three-start stretch in late July/early August where he was really struggling. His ERA rose from 3.22 to 3.89 overall. Since then, however, he has been back to ace form in not allowing more than three earned in his past six.

Lester comes off seven shutout innings with just two hits allowed and a season-high nine strikeouts Saturday in a win over the Reds. It was Lester’s first time going seven since June 20 and hugely important because he had left his previous start with back tightness. On May 12, Lester beat the White Sox (5.2 IP, 1 ER). Abreu, if he plays (not looking great), has the most history vs. Lester, going 6-for-15 with a homer and five Ks.

White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito (10-11, 5.77) had an ERA in the 7.00s as recently as June 22 but largely has been much better since. Not so much this month, though, with a 0-2 record and 6.91 ERA in three starts. It’s all about control for Giolito as he leads the American League with 83 walks. Batters are hitting .245 against him.

Giolito won at Wrigley Field on May 13 despite walking seven batters in 5.2 innings along with three wild pitches and an HBP. He did surrender just two hits and three runs. No Cub has more than three at-bats off him.

  • Cubs are 9-1 in Lester’s last 10 road starts.
  • White Sox are 1-6 in Giolito’s last 7 home starts vs. a team with a winning record.
  • Over is 6-1 in Lester’s last 7 road starts.
  • Over is 5-0 in Giolito’s last 5 home starts.

Lester has been much better on the road (10-2, 2.82 ERA) and Giolito much worse at home (3-6, 7.91 ERA) – the Sox are 4-10 in his past 14 there. Go Cubs on the moneyline for a Saturday MLB pick and over the total.

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