Cubs vs. White Sox: Series Thread (Games 58-60)
The Cubs close out the 2020 regular season sleeping in their own beds but hosted by their South Side rivals, the White Sox. The Cubs enter the series 2.5 games up. The Cardinals have 6 games remaining to the Cubs' 3. The Cubs' magic number stands at 3 games as of my writing this. See below for the daily match-ups.
Game 1, Friday Sep. 25, first pitch at 7:10 pm central
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (7-3, 2.22 ERA)
CHW: RHP Dylan Cease (5-3, 3.52 ERA)
Darvish still leads Cy Young contenders in wins and is in the top tier for ERA and most peripheral stats. This final start of the season may determine his finish in that awards race. It is also crucial for the Cubs as they attempt to lock the Cardinals out of the division race. His last start, a loss on 4 earned runs in 6 innings pitched, looks like a blemish because his shortened 2020 season has been otherwise spectacular. He did, however, strike out 9 Twins and walk only 1 in that start; it was mostly in keeping with his stellar 2020 except for a little extra hard contact. He defeated the White Sox on Aug. 23, going 7 innings, striking out 10 and allowing only one earned run. Edwin Encarnacion is 7-22 with two homeruns off of him. Jose Abreu is 3-6 with a homerun.
Dylan Cease is having one of the strangest seasons of any starting pitcher in the majors. Despite having a K-to-walk ratio near one-to-one and allowing 1.51 homeruns per nine innings, he has a winning record and a better than average ERA. He's out pitched his peripherals dramatically and benefited from a .240 BABIP despite allowing more hard contact than in 2019. He lost to Cincinnati last time out, allowing 3 earned runs on 7(!) walks in only 3 innings pitched. In his previous outing he walked 5 in 4.2 innings. Perhaps the struggling Cubs lineup can benefit from leaving the bats on their shoulders.
Game 2, Saturday, Sep. 26, first pitch at 6:10 pm central
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (3-2, 4.40 ERA)
CHW: RHP Dane Dunning (2-0, 3.19 ERA)
Veteran lefty and herald of the Cubs' window of contention, Jon Lester, makes his final start of the 2020 season and potentially his final start as a Cub. It remains to be seen how he will be included on the postseason roster or if the Cubs front office will find any way for him to continue with the team from 2021 on. We do know, however, that he was among the central performers in the troupe of Cubs that won it all in 2016 and gave us reason to attend to baseball with some vigor from 2015 to the present. His previous start was a solid 6 shutout innings in Pittsburgh, albeit with only 1 strikeout. Despite struggling to miss bats, Lester has turned in an uneven but roughly league average season so far. The White Sox chased him after only 3.2 and blasted 4 homeruns on their way to 8 earned runs in the process. May they not see the ball quite so well tonight.
The rookie, Dunning, missed the Cubs in August. After missing all of 2019, he debuted on Aug. 19. He's mixed three solid starts in with 3 shortened outings, collecting two wins and avoiding a loss so far. He's missing bats and missing barrels so far, surrending a hard-hit rate of only 18.1% according to Fangraphs. He mixes a good slider and decent change with a low 90s fastball. A former first round pick who strikes out plenty and gets a lot of contact on the ground, Dunning has good upside. He's looking to stay healthy and stay in the majors. The Cubs will be going in with no history against him.
Game 3, Sunday, Sep. 27, first pitch at 2:10 pm central
CHC: LHP Jose Quintana (0-0, 5.63 ERA) / RHP Adbert Alzolay (0-1, 3.31 ERA)
CHW: RHP Reynaldo Lopez (1-2, 4.68 ERA)
The final game of the season may be another piggy-back style game from the Quintana and Alzolay pair. Both pitchers last on Sep. 22 in Pittsburgh. Quintana opened with only 2 innings (allowing one earned run) and Alzolay followed by striking out 7 Pirates over 4 innings. Alzolay has been wild in his five appearances, striking out plenty but walking too many batters as well. Quintana, not having pitched more than three innings in any appearance, is probably out of the running for October starts but could find himself getting high leverage innings out of the bullpen as lefty Kyle Ryan has struggled this season, and new addition Andrew Chafin has been even worse.
26-year-old Reynaldo Lopez brings a blistering fastball and plus curve to face the Cubs' lineup for the second time this season. He did not earn a decision in the last face-off, going only 3.1 innings while allowing 2 earned runs. Current Cubs have seen little of him and done even less, with the exception of Billy Hamilton, whose 4-8 career line against the righty is probably not enough to get him at bats anyway.
Arizona Phil 9 hours 2 min ago (view)
Someone to keep an eye on in 2021 is RHRP (ex-1B) Jerrick Suiter.
He was selected by the Cubs from the Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs immediately converted him from a mediocre AA first-baseman to a full-time pitcher, having seen him throw garbage innings in blow-outs for the Pirates AA Altoona affiliate in 2019.
Dolorous Jon Lester 15 hours 7 min ago (view)
Good to see Roederer and Velasquez providing some production. From what I've followed they haven't been up to much. Granted this season isn't great for development
Arizona Phil 19 hours 9 min ago (view)
The Cubs have added OF Brennen Davis to their AZIL Active List roster.
crunch 20 hours 32 min ago (view)
"He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable."
reggie golden flashblacks...if BP was a game he'd be an all-star.
Arizona Phil 21 hours 26 min ago (view)
Unfortunately for the Cubs, all of their Top 10 position-player prospects (M. Amaya, Davis, Hearn, Howard, Made, C. Morel, R. Morel, Quintero, Roederer, and Strumpf -- listed alphabetically) are two or more years away from the big leagues, in most cases more like three or four or even five years away.
Arizona Phil 21 hours 41 min ago (view)
TIM: One of the things people wonder about when they see a young shortstop for the first time is does he have the arm and range necessary to play SS or would his tools maybe be better suited for 2B, 3B or OF. So far at Instructs Kevin Made has shown all of the attributes of a SS, and he is an advanced hitter (for his age) as well.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 20 min ago (view)
AZBOBBOP: Ethan Hearn showed off his plus-arm by back-picking a runner off 1st base last week. You don't see catchers with the confidence to attempt pick-offs much out here.
He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable. His hitting (contact and barreling) has improved at instructs, and that's one of the things he needed to improve.
His receiving should improve with experience as well.
azbobbop 1 day 11 hours ago (view)
Phil, saw Ethan Hearn with a couple of hits today. How has he been trending?
tim815 2 days 3 hours ago (view)
That Kevin Made is already representing offensively seems, on the 1 to 10 scale with 10 being fantastic news, in the 17 or 18 range.
Nwogu in the 9 to 11 span.
Arizona Phil 2 days 20 hours ago (view)
For those of you wondering about catcher Ronnier Quintero (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the 2019-20 ISP), he participates fully in pre-game and Camp Day work-outs and he catches bullpens, and while he has been the bullpen catcher at every AZIL game he has not yet played in a game.
As a catcher he has a lot to learn, and the Cubs would prefer that Quintero mainly concentrates on receiving and learning how to work with pitchers right now. He can learn about hitting and baserunning later.
Arizona Phil 2 days 21 hours ago (view)
In adition to the 22 pitchers originally on the Cubs AZIL Active List roster plus RHP Manuel Rodriguez (right biceps strain last March) and LHP Brad Wieck (wearing a brace on his left knee) who are on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL and are rehabbing at AZIL, the Cubs have added four additional pitchers to their AZIL Active List roster:
RHP Josh Burgmann
RHP Chris Clarke
LHP D. J. Herz
RHP Michael McAvene
Charlie 3 days 18 hours ago (view)
This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.
bradsbeard 3 days 23 hours ago (view)
I'd say the only guys who struggled all season were Baez and Bryant. Willson struggled for a lot of August but was one of the few who hit in September. Most of the team hit well in 2019 (including Baez and Bryant before injuries derailed them). I don't know if there's any reason to blame Ipoce in particular for the September slump.
crunch 4 days 12 hours ago (view)
iapoce expected to stay. i'm surprised. i know it's a weird/short season, but it was a season-long slump for a lot of guys and answers weren't showing up.
crunch 4 days 13 hours ago (view)
i eagerly await the espn 10 part mini-series "Rafael Palmeiro, More Like Rafael Baseballmerio" covering those 28 legendary games.
Dolorous Jon Lester 4 days 13 hours ago (view)
In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year