Cubs vs White Sox – 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

Anyone for a Windy City World Series? Both the Cubs and White Sox are in the MLB playoffs and both could win their respective divisions. They open up the Crosstown Classic on Friday from the South Side and the game is nationally televised.

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Why Bet on Cubs? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The Cubs could have the NL Central Division wrapped up by the time they take the field for this game. They still are competing with Atlanta for the second seed in the NL playoffs. After a hiatus in 2019, the Cubs return to the postseason for the fifth time in six seasons dating to the 2015 campaign. This is the first time in franchise history the team will have advanced to postseason play five times in a six-season span. Prior to this six-season run, the club had made the postseason just six times in 69 seasons from 1946-2014.

Anthony Rizzo after the Cubs clinched a playoff spot: “It’s a lot of credit to us for not being in sync for pretty much the whole year and grinding through and getting wins. It’s a full team effort and that’s what it’s going to take to be the last team standing.”

The Cubbies might rest third baseman and former NL MVP Kris Bryant until the playoffs. Bryant made an early exit from Monday night’s game against the Pirates after tweaking his oblique on a swing and is dealing with some tightness in it. There’s really no point in playing Bryant the rest of the regular season.

Bryant’s offensive numbers are awful this year. If he doesn’t return to the lineup he’ll finish with a .195 average and .583 OPS in 138 plate appearances. He missed time because of elbow, oblique and, most significantly, wrist/finger issues this season. Bryant’s previous worst season came in 2018 when he played through a shoulder injury and still hit .272 with an .834 OPS.

It’s ace Yu Darvish (7-3) on the mound. At one point, he was the Cy Young favorite but has fallen off a bit and probably won’t win it. Darvish allowed four earned runs over six-plus innings in a loss to the Twins on Sunday night.

Darvish has benefited from an easy schedule this season, but he ran into one of the few good Central-division offenses on Sunday and was knocked around for nine hits, including a Max Kepler two-run homer that ended his night in the top of the seventh. Darvish’s ERA rose to 2.22. Good but not good enough.

The Japanese right-hander faced the White Sox on Aug. 23 and struck out 10 over seven innings of one-run baseball in the 2-1 win. Darvish allowed a solo homer to the red-hot Jose Abreu in the second inning, and that was it. He scattered six hits, and put just one runner on via walk.

Why Bet on White Sox? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The White Sox had a fairly decent lead in the AL Central not long ago but now are battling the Twins for that title. The Pale Hose won two of three at the Cubs from Aug. 21-23.  Can the White Sox win the World Series for the first time since 2005? They could but there are definite holes.

For example, a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year honors at the end of August, outfielder Luis Robert is trying to survive a miserable September.

“They’re trying to keep him closed, trying to get him to stay to the opposite side of the field, stay in the middle of the diamond a little bit more,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We’re just trying to keep him confident. He’s got a lot of talent, so we’ve just got to keep encouraging him and keep working.”

Monitor the status of co-starting catcher Yasmani Grandal as he has missed a few games. Grandal took a foul tip off his right hand on Monday, but X-rays came back negative. He should be fine for the playoffs. The Sox have another excellent catcher in James McCann.

Meanwhile, shortstop Tim Anderson is attempting to become the 12th player (13th time) in the modern era to lead the major leagues in average in back-to-back seasons (fourth right-hander), the first since Colorado’s Larry Walker in 1998-99 and the first in White Sox history.

It’s young right-hander Dylan Cease (5-3) here. Cease gave up three runs despite not allowing a hit in three-plus innings with seven walks and five strikeouts in his start against the Reds last Sunday while picking up a loss.

It’s the first time since 2014 that a pitcher didn’t allow a hit and walked seven in the same game (Brandon Morrow). The 24-year-old has battled command issues in the past and that was the case Sunday with just 37-of-80 pitches going for strikes. It was the third time in his past five starts that Cease has walked at least five hitters, and his K/BB is now 39/32 over 53 2/3 innings. He also has an ERA of 3.52 in that time, so he’s done a decent job of pitching around those free passes.

Cease was a former top Cubs prospect and faced them on Aug. 23, giving up four hits and two runs over six solid innings but taking the loss. The right-hander breezed through the first five innings without giving up a run, but he got into trouble in the sixth, topped by a two-run homer by Kyle Schwarber.

Expert Prediction White Sox 4, Cubs 3  

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