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.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 hour 47 min ago (view)
I believe this is the correct take. It's surprising that Len is leaving. He's good, but he had gotten a little too rationalizey over the past few years for me.
However, it seemed he was heavily invested in the Cubs. His departure feels like there is some Ricketts-ish bullshit going on behind the scenes at Marquee that Len wants no part of. Anyway, I wish him well with the other Chicago team
crunch 2 hours 24 min ago (view)
is everything the ricketts touch just falling to shit in 2021? ....well, except their heavy investments in taking over the state of Nebraska politically with one of the sons and heavy investment in supportive state legislators...
Dolorous Jon Lester 3 hours 54 min ago (view)
This makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks Phil!
(And that HR off Hader was unforgettable)
Hagsag 6 hours 18 min ago (view)
Wrigley Rat 11 hours 46 min ago (view)
Len Kasper is leaving the Cubs for the White Sox radio booth.
Charlie 16 hours 3 min ago (view)
I would be happy to see the Cubs no longer spend DH time on Victor Caratini. Provided there's a Kyle Schwarber or better alternative, of course.
Arizona Phil 1 day 6 min ago (view)
DJL: I don't think Ildemaro Vargas being out of minor league options is much of a concern to the Cubs because as things stand right now he projects as the team's primary utility infielder in 2021. He can play all four INF positions (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, plus corner OF, too), and he is switch hitter with some pop, especially from the right side (remember the 9th inning HR he hit off Josh Hader in September?).
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 49 min ago (view)
I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point
waveland 1 day 9 hours ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 1 day 11 hours ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Strumpf was wearing a cast on his hand in Minor League Camp before everything got shut-down in March so his not being at South Bend might have had something to do with that. I don't know why Rivas wasn't at the ATS.
bradsbeard 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
Do you have any idea why Rivas and Strumpf weren't at the alternate site in South Bend? I thought Rivas especially showed enough in ST games to be viewed as a legitimate depth option, especially with the DH.
Arizona Phil 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
Alfonso Rivas reminds me a bit of Rafael Palmeiro when Palmeiro first came up to the big leagues and was a "doubles machine" (before he started hitting home runs).
Rivas played D-1 baseball at the University of Arizona, so (just like Nico Hoerner, who also played in the PAC-12) I don't think he needs a lot of additional time at AAA before he's ready for MLB. He's a very advanced hitter, as long as you are OK with lots of doubles & lots of walks but not many HR.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
I really hope Rivas has a chance at the LF job. Would ease some of the sting of Schwarber being cut loose.
Arizona Phil 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
CRUNCH: I got the impression that Ross had seen enough of Schwarber in LF, so implementing the universal DH may be necessary before Schwarber returns to the Cubs in 2021. I think the Cubs would be fine with Schwarber as their main DH going forward.
BTW, I strongly suspect that the universal DH will be included in the next CBA, but whether there will be a DH in the National League in 2021 is still TBA (which is really stupid, since clubs need to know right now for sure one way or the other whether or not there will be a DH in the N. L. in 2021).
Arizona Phil 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
Besides the guys on the 40, Cubs 2021 NRI relievers with a legit chance to win a bullpen slot in Spring Training include LHRPs Josh Osich and Rex Brothers, and RHRPs Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, and Joe Wieland (presuming they are not taken in the Rule 5 Draft).
Brothers and Wieland are out of minor league options, however, so if added to the 40 they could not ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" like the others could.