Game time: 8:10 p.m. ET
Venue: Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, IL
Where to watch: Marquee Sports Network, NBCSCH, MLB Network
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: White Sox -220, Cubs +180
Season record (entering Thursday)
Cubs: 56-73 (4th place, NL Central)
White Sox: 73-55 (1st place, AL Central)
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Cubs - White Sox preview and analysis
Recent form (entering Thursday)
Cubs: 4-6 in last 10
White Sox: 5-5 in last 10
There’s nothing better than a classic series between two teams from the same city to show off location dominance.
Only if it actually meant both teams were competitive in this juncture, but that’s the kind of season both the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs have given us, for better or worse.
The Chicago squads will square off for a three-game series on the south side starting on Friday. The White Sox are wrapping up a four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays as the Cubs enjoy a day off … coming off a rare series victory against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field.
At time of writing, the White Sox are in the midst of the finale at Rogers Centre. The White Sox got a bit of good news prior to the start of the game, that All-Star pitcher Carlos Rodon was activated off the IL and made his return to the mound. The arrival of Rodon bolsters the already-terrific rotation at the White Sox’s disposal.
Chicago entered Thursday having lost two of the first three against the Blue Jays, which hasn’t drastically altered the White Sox’s place in the American League Central standings, as they have a nine-game lead on the Cleveland Indians with close to 30 games to go.
But with the Indians about to enter a crucial three-game series against the Boston Red Sox that could drastically change the AL Wild Card standings by Sunday, this has become an important series for the White Sox to not lose any ground/momentum.
It didn’t take Chicago long to rebound emphatically from their 3-1 loss on Wednesday; Jose Abreu and Luis Robert hit back-to-back homers off Hyun Jin Ryu and jumped out to a 4-1 lead through three innings. Getting off to a quick start has been an inconsistent roller coaster for the Chi Sox, even if you count Abreu’s homer in the first inning on Tuesday.
Dallas Keuchel is expected to get the start for the White Sox, and his club would like to get the veteran back on track as soon as possible. Keuchel has lost four of his last five decisions and has not won since Aug. 16, a 5-2 win against the Oakland Athletics. He gave up six earned runs in five innings on the 21st against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“It’s just kind of the way it’s been going,” Keuchel said after his last start
against Tampa Bay. “Gotta keep making pitches and try to limit damage. But it’s tough. … Just didn’t really seem to find much luck or [have things] bounce my way.”
The Cubs have, sort of, bounced back since ending their 12-game losing streak a week ago. Chicago has split its past eight games, highlighted by two shocking wins at the Cincinnati Reds.
Safe to say the Chicago rebuild doesn’t seem as fun as, say, the Washington Nationals moving on from everyone. Gutting the roster and moving on from Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez at the July trade deadline does not bode well for the Cubs’ future stance in the National League. And yet, the Cubs have reached the point of just accepting the fate that has been presented to them.
Because there are instances like Wednesday, when the Cubs split the doubleheader with the Rockies; beginning with a 5-2 win in seven innings, and then a 13-10 slugfest later that night which saw the Cubs score three in the bottom of the seventh to extend the game; one more in the eighth to keep it going, only to allow a four-spot in the top of the 10th.
Ian Happ went 2-for-5 with three RBI and a home run, while Jason Heyward also had a 2-for-5 game. The batters came to life in this near-sweep, even though Jesse Steele couldn’t get past 3.2 innings, allowing four earned runs and having five strikeouts.
Right-hander Keegan Thompson is expected to start for the Cubs come first pitch. The 26-year-old went four innings and had two earned runs his last time out in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Much like the last meetings in Wrigley Field, this battle of crosstown rivals should likely end with the White Sox winning. The Cubs have shown heart and have played well the last few, but the talent discrepancy, especially on the road, should prove too great for the Cubbies. White Sox win 8-2.
The Cubs are 3-11 (-4.4 on the money line) when they’re an underdog between +175 and +250.
Against AL Central teams, the Cubs are 3-10, while also 3-10 in interleague games.
The under is 24-11 when the White Sox are favored at home by at least -150.
Cubs: C Wilson Contreras (knee, 10-day IL)
White Sox: C Yasmani Grandal (knee, 10-day IL)
Players to watch
Cubs: Third baseman Patrick Wisdom had a five-game hitting streak end on Wednesday, but he has three home runs in his last six games.
White Sox: Has Jose Abreu’s power returned? The reigning AL MVP has two home runs in three games.
Michael Hermosillo (R) LF
Frank Schwindel (R) 1B
Matt Duffy (R) 3B
Patrick Wisdom (R) DH
David Bote (R) 2B
Jason Heyward (L) RF
Rafael Ortega (L) CF
Austin Romine (R) C
Andrew Romine (S) SS
Tim Anderson (R) SS
Luis Robert (R) CF
Jose Abreu (R) DH
Eloy Jimenez (R) LF
Andrew Vaughn (R) 1B
Cesar Hernandez (S) 2B
Brian Goodwin (L) RF
Leury Garcia (S) 3B
Seby Zavala (R) C
Batting average: Wilson Contreras (.226)
Home runs: Patrick Wisdom (21)
RBI: Patrick Wisdom (44)
Stolen bases: Rafael Ortega (8)
Wins: Kyle Hendricks (14)
ERA: Kyle Hendricks (4.09)
Batting average: Tim Anderson (.300)
Hits: Tim Anderson (135)
Home runs: Jose Abreu (26)
RBI: Jose Abreu (96)
Stolen bases: Tim Anderson (17)
Wins: Dylan Cease & Lance Lynn (10)
Saves: Liam Hendriks (29)
ERA: Lance Lynn (2.20)
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