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.
Charlie 3 hours 20 min ago (view)
This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.
bradsbeard 8 hours 18 min 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 21 hours 41 min 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 22 hours 41 min 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 22 hours 51 min ago (view)
In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year
Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 58 min ago (view)
Cubs fire asst. hitting coach Terrmel Sledge. I knew it was his fault!
crunch 22 hours 59 min ago (view)
shout out to 1999 1st base gold glove winner rafael palmeiro. 25 starts (28 games total) at 1st...128 starts at DH.
Charlie 2 days 29 min ago (view)
Lol at Nico getting nominated for riding the bench a lot.
crunch 2 days 2 hours ago (view)
RF Jason Heyward, SS Javier Baez, 2B Nico Hoerner, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, and Ps Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills gold glove finalists
bradsbeard 2 days 6 hours ago (view)
Thank you, sir! Sounds like a nice get for the Cubs, and a good project for (what's left of) the new development infrastructure.
Arizona Phil 2 days 7 hours ago (view)
There have been some holes in the AZIL east-side schedule, with one team canceling games last week (although they are back playing this week) and another canceling game this week due to CoViD-19 issue, so the other teams (like the Cubs) are making up some of the "lost" games with intrasquad and in-house "sim" games.
Arizona Phil 2 days 8 hours ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: From what I have seen of Jacob Wetzel so far (BP, fielding practice, base-running drills, sim games, AZIL games, and yesterday's intasquad game), I would say he looks like a football running back playing baseball in that he has a high motor and plays with a bit of an edge.
He has a thick body but he also has plus speed (very much like a football running back in that respect), he runs the bases aggressively, makes hard contact, has HR power, a decent arm, maybe can use some work in the outfield as far as tracking balls.
bradsbeard 2 days 21 hours ago (view)
Phil, curious if you've seen enough of Jacob Wetzel to offer an initial scouting report. Just from watching some prep video he looked pretty strong and fairly athletic (HS football player and all). Impressive numbers albeit in community college, but he was a division 1 recruit before that so he's pretty intriguing to me.
KingKongvsGodzilla 4 days 19 hours ago (view)
AZPhil, thank you for these updates! It's a nice little pick me up during this dumb year. If you have anything to say on Yohendrick Pinango, Joel Machado, Rafael Morel, or Richard Gallardo, I would love to hear it! Thanks again!
crunch 5 days 4 hours ago (view)
jim hickey new nats pitching coach.
bradsbeard 5 days 23 hours ago (view)
Several non-prospects ate up spots as well. Ultimately wish they had given a few more Rivas types a shot there.