What to Know
The White Sox hold a narrow 58-54 lead in the all-time regular season series between the two clubs.
For the second year in a row, Jose Quintana is not scheduled to pitch against his former team.
For the Cubs, they are riding high after a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins, and they have one of the best run differentials in the National League despite being a game and a half behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race.
As for the White Sox, they are eight games out in the shockingly bad American League Central, and are the only big league team that hasn’t hit double digits in the win column yet.
Even so, there will be plenty of talent and storylines to follow on the field this weekend:
Friday: Carson Fulmer vs. Tyler Chatwood
Friday’s series opener will likely be played under ominous skies and in much cooler conditions than have been the norm at Wrigley Field over the Cubs’ last few games.
The White Sox will send Fulmer to the mound in the game after he had a rough effort against the Minnesota Twins last weekend. He gave up four home runs in just 3.2 innings of work, and he took the loss as the White Sox dropped a 6-4 decision.
As for the Cubs, they’ll be hoping that Chatwood can begin to find his form after a rough start to the season. He has already issued 27 walks this season, but he’s still posted a 3.31 ERA and struck out 32 batters in six starts this season.
Saturday: James Shields vs. Jon Lester
Shields had a perfect game going in his last start, but he still wasn’t able to secure the victory, as he gave up three earned runs in 6.2 innings in a 5-3 loss to the Twins.
Shields has also given the Cubs fits over the last three seasons, posting a 2.92 ERA and a 2-1 record in four starts against the North Siders. He has walked 10 batters in 24.2 innings of work, but he’s also racked up 29 strikeouts in those games and held the team to a .213 batting average.
Meanwhile, Lester will be trying to do something he’s only done once this season: get past the sixth inning to help save a bullpen that is already been one of the most highly taxed in baseball. Lester does have a 2.82 ERA and a 2-1 record this season, but has racked up high pitch counts early in games and forced Joe Maddon to dip into his bullpen earlier than he probably would like to.
Having a day off Thursday helped, but with 11 games coming up in the next 10 days thanks to a doubleheader in Cincinnati and a makeup game against the Atlanta Braves Monday, the Cubs need a deep outing from their veteran stopper.
Sunday: Lucas Giolito vs. Kyle Hendricks
Hendricks once again is one of the most under-appreciated hurlers in baseball, racking up groundball outs like crazy and posting a 3.02 ERA and a 3-2 record this season. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last five starts, and after giving up three home runs to the Colorado Rockies on May 1, he responded with eight innings of two-run baseball against the Marlins on Monday.
Giolito has been dealing with some mechanical issues on the mound, and has had a few rough starts this season, including giving up four earned runs and seven hits in four innings against the Pirates on Tuesday. He has a 1-4 record and a 7.25 ERA on the season, and he likely won’t find much comfort in a Cubs lineup that has seemingly been rounding into form as of late.
Players to Watch:
White Sox catcher Welington Castillo has been dealing with some bumps and bruises as of late, but the former Cub is riding a three game hitting streak and has two home runs and four RBI in his last three contests, including two against National League competition.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has also been settling into a nice groove of late for the North Siders, with four home runs and six RBI in his last seven games. He also has four doubles over that stretch, and has been driving the ball with authority against righties and lefties alike.