Crosstown Chat

Alex Campbell: Hey everyone, welcome to the first ever Soup of the Week Chat! With the White Sox and the Cubs playing the first of two crosstown series this season at Wrigley Field over the weekend we wanted to discuss the series separately from the usual “This Week In…” column so this could be exclusively about baseball. So we’ll take a look at the three games, two won by the Cubs and one by the Sox, and take stock of where each team is at right now. I’m of course joined by Logan Springgate, who writes the Cubs section of each “This Week In Chicago Sports.”

This chat was actually Logan’s idea, so I guess I’ll start by saying thanks for the suggestion!

logan.springgate: I figure we go loosely game by game, then get into some more general stuff in the second half

So Game 1: Cubs 11, White Sox 2

Carson Fulmer was not good

Alex Campbell: Yeah that one was tough to watch

If you’re leaving the game after 1 and 2/3 something has obviously gone seriously wrong

logan.springgate: And it really only got worse from there for the Sox

I appreciate you guys turning Willson Contreras’ season around on Big Willy’s bobble head day

Alex Campbell: You’re welcome?

That may just be our lot in life this season: turning other people’s seasons around

logan.springgate: I was on a train for the end of the game, how did Aaron Bummer (such a good bad name btw) give up 4 runs without any of them being earned?

Alex Campbell: I honestly don’t even remember; my gut says “Leury Garcia being terrible at every position” but that’s really just my go-to bad defense answer this season

logan.springgate: Looks like it was actually Davidson being bad in the field, which, duh

There’s a reason people become DH’s

Alex Campbell: I mean yeah he’s paid to hit and that’s about it

also a passed-ball for “Beef” Welington Castillo

logan.springgate: Who became one of like 10 or 12 players to play on both sides of the Crosstown Classic.

That list includes illustrious names like Jeff Samardzija and Kosuke Fukudome

Alex Campbell: Yeah that’s quite the distinction

And formerly illustrious names like Sammy Sosa1If you haven’t seen it recently, the trade that sent Sosa to the Cubs is in the “all time bad” category

logan.springgate: Oh yeah I like to look at that one and laugh sometimes.

I really need to find time to write about the Cubs pitching because despite the results, Chatwood was not good in this game

Alex Campbell: He struggled with walks again, 5 in 5 innings, and the Sox didn’t punish him for it

logan.springgate: And he wasn’t throwing strikes, but the Sox were still swinging. They grounded out on so many 2-0 counts…

I was so psyched about Chatwood [before the season], but this isn’t getting the job done

Alex Campbell: We have the plate discipline of a team with 9 Javy Baezes

without all the hitting talent

and yeah as for Chatwood, the whole theory that “his numbers were inflated because he pitched in Colorado” isn’t looking like such a good take right now

logan.springgate: Anderson was walking at the start of the year, did that stop?

Alex Campbell: Tim Anderson has 12 walks this season, he had 13 in all of last year

Progress?

logan.springgate: I suppose

This game was a beat down, so what say you we move to Game 2 of the series?

Unless you have anything else interesting

Alex Campbell: fine by me haha

logan.springgate: Alright Game 2: Cubs 8, White Sox 4

I did not know that James Shields was still a major league pitcher

Alex Campbell: he probably shouldn’t be

logan.springgate: He definitely shouldn’t be.

Alex Campbell: He followed in Fulmer’s footsteps and spotted the Cubs 5 runs early

logan.springgate: This actually prompted me to go back and look at the 2013 Cubs rotation when they were ostensibly at the same point in their rebuild as the Sox. Wanna take a guess at any of the names in that pitching staff?

Alex Campbell: oh man…….

Was Samardzija on that staff?

logan.springgate: Yep he was the ace

It also included Travis Wood making 32 starts and Edwin Jackson making 31 starts. All the rest got split between Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin (???), Matt Garza (lol), and others.

Alex Campbell: Wow that’s terrible

are any of those guys still in the League?

logan.springgate: I didn’t look all of them up, but Villanueva is playing in Korea and Edwin Jackson is on a minor league deal with Washington.

Edwin Jackson has a no hitter, HOW?

Alex Campbell: The same way Phillip Humber does

he’s got a perfect game

logan.springgate: Baseball is weird, we should probably talk about people that are still playing

Alex Campbell: yeah let’s get back to the game, so the Cubs got 5 early then 3 more in the 7th and Jon Lester was on cruise control

Willson Contreras had another really good game; 10 RBI over two games isn’t too shabby

logan.springgate: After some early struggles this year, Lester has been great

And I have some stats about Contreras and Rizzo for later, but they’ve both been on fire

Alex Campbell: Indeed, and then Matt Davidson, being the 1-man offense he is, blasted a three-run homer to at least make the game worth paying attention to

logan.springgate: It’s a shame that Davidson can’t really play the field because he’d be a prime trade deadline guy for the Sox. Carl Edwards Jr. has been really good this year and he just crushed that homer in the 8th.

Alex Campbell: This new era where we suddenly care about exit velocity was made for Matt Davidson

He’s the type of guy who will be picked for the Home Run Derby then hit maybe 3 home runs because he doesn’t have an upper-cut swing

logan.springgate: He’s Adam Duvall but somehow worse in the field

Speaking of bad in the field, Kris Bryant should not play RF anymore

Alex Campbell: that was absolutely hilarious from my perspective, but yeah, not a good idea

logan.springgate: It’s crazy because he was actually pretty good in LF in 2016, but god he had at least two balls that would be easy outs for any regular outfielder

Alex Campbell: it did make the end of the game interesting

logan.springgate: I trust Maddon, but there were some weird defensive alignments this weekend

Alex Campbell: you can survive weird defensive alignments against an offense as allergic to runs as the Sox

case in point, loading the bases in the bottom of the 9th down four and leaving them loaded

logan.springgate: Speaking of which, Brandon Morrow is an offseason experiment that definitely seems to be working out

9/10 in save opportunities so far. Really good for someone who never closed before this year

Alex Campbell: I was really critical of that move given how Morrow got lit up in the playoffs last year but yeah he’s been a pleasant surprise

logan.springgate: Morrow got lit up because he pitched in almost every game the Dodgers played

His arm had to be falling off by game 7

Alex Campbell: Dave Roberts’ managing was certainly questionable

logan.springgate: Morrow was the one pushing for it

Love the hustle

Alex Campbell: You just need to know when to say no to the hustle haha

anyway, that was that, Cubs win

logan.springgate: I have one last thing before we move on

Alex Campbell: go for it

logan.springgate: You hear a lot about body control in football and basketball, but not that often in baseball. So how in the world does Javy Beisbol pull off slides like this on a semi-regular basis?

Alex Campbell: Nothing about Javy makes any sense to me

But it is incredibly impressive; in an era where we’re super slow-mo-ing every time someone slides to see if they were off the base for even a millisecond Javy has mastered the art of evading the tag

logan.springgate: I think it was the Cubs or maybe MLB tweeted out a compilation of all his ridiculous baserunning/sliding today. His situational awareness is so impressive; I just need him to put everything else together.

So that’s it, onto Game 3

Alex Campbell: White Sox 5, Cubs 3

Hey we actually won one!!

logan.springgate: Yes, congrats on getting your 10th win of the year.

Alex Campbell: So full disclosure neither of us actually watched this game

logan.springgate: That’s true, Mother’s Day called

Alex Campbell: yeah……

logan.springgate: Does Lucas Giolito know that the ball can’t hit the ground in front of the plate if he wants it to be a strike?

Alex Campbell: I’m not sure he does; he also doesn’t seem to know that you don’t have to throw a strike on every pitch

I watched him pitch in-person last week and everything is over the plate

logan.springgate: I’m honestly impressed that he managed to stay in the game as long as he did even though he gave up 7 walks.

Alex Campbell: That walk number was definitely high, but it’s good to see him get past the 5th for once

logan.springgate: His curve has insane movement, so if he can ever figure out how to throw it…

Alex Campbell: he’s got incredible potential, I don’t know if the pressure has gotten to him early this season or what

logan.springgate: Somehow Giolito has been bad, Lopez has been average, and the other guy probably won’t even make the majors, but the Sox still won the Eaton trade

Alex Campbell: particularly when you consider Adam Eaton is now out until who knows when

logan.springgate: Yeah that’s my point

Alex Campbell: Dane Dunning (the third guy in the trade) is actually pitching really well this season so we’ll see what he turns into

logan.springgate: He’s also 23 and only at AA, definitely not top of the rotation material

Alex Campbell: nope, if he makes the majors it’s just a bonus; as far as this actual game both Giolito and Hendricks were ok, and the difference was that the White Sox actually had some timely hitting for once

of course Davidson was the only guy to get more than one hit

logan.springgate: Hendricks did exactly what he normally does. No walks, a few Ks, I can’t blame a pitcher for losing when he only gave up 3 ERs

I know Nate Jones got smoked in an outing last week, are the Sox really going to make Bruce Rondon their closer over Jones?

Alex Campbell: Well the intent was for Joakim Soria to be the closer with Jones setting up but Soria has only pitched 12 innings this season

I have no idea where Bruce Rondon came from, at this point I think you want Jones pitching in whatever the highest pressure situation is whether that’s closing or coming in early to get the Sox out of a jam

but if the Sox want Jones to be the closer of the future (which I would support) they should get him used to that

logan.springgate: I guess Soria is very tradeable if he stays the closer this year and it’s not like the Sox are trying to win

Alex Campbell: yeah there really isn’t a point to a permanent closer when you *might* win 60 games

So are we ready to move on to talking more generally about where the teams are at?

logan.springgate: Last thing I just saw in the box score: the Giolito/Narvaez battery gave up 4 steals in this game. So that’s not good.

But yeah let’s move on to talking about how astronomically bad the Sox have been overall

Alex Campbell: Narvaez has no arm strength and Giolito does not hurry to the plate

So yeah they’ve been terrible at preventing steals as a battery

logan.springgate: It’s honestly impressive to be this bad in a division that is so terrible overall.

Alex Campbell: With the exception of Reynaldo Lopez, the starting pitching has been awful, the worst being Miguel Gonzalez who’s on the DL, which honestly might be the best place for him

logan.springgate: Lopez has been good by ERA standards, but it’s hard to see him keeping this up

Alex Campbell: thank goodness we get to play Kansas City a bunch (more on that in a minute…)

yeah the start Lopez has had probably isn’t sustainable, but he’s definitely replaced Jose Quintana in the role of being the best starter yet getting the least run support

logan.springgate: So I don’t remember if I’ve talked about fielding-independent pitching (FIP) in any of my posts before, but essentially it’s a measure of how good a pitcher has actually been by looking at Ks, BBs, and HRs because those are the 3 things that pitchers control by themselves. FIP is scaled to be similar to ERA.

Lopez has a 2.44 ERA and a 4.93 FIP, so he’s been pretty lucky so far

Alex Campbell: My assumption has been that he will get a little worse, Giolito will get a little better, Shields will be Shields and Carson Fulmer who knows

logan.springgate: Shields will be around to make 30+ starts just like we talked about Edwin Jackson earlier

Fulmer is so bad so far

Alex Campbell: he’s got some great stuff but absolutely no control of it; personally I never saw him as a starter; I think he has potential to be a closer/late inning reliever and that if he doesn’t get it together as a starter this season he needs to be transitioned to the bullpen

logan.springgate: That’s fair, get the Travis Wood treatment.

Now seems like a good time for you to mention the White Sox @ Kauffman phenomenon

Alex Campbell: it’s incredible, so for some reason the White Sox have already played 7 games in Kansas City this season2; I’m not sure how the MLB scheduling algorithm spit that out but whatever

as you mentioned the White Sox have only won 10 game this season

5 of those wins have come at Kauffman stadium

In other words, the Sox are 5-2 against the Royals and 5-25 against everyone else

logan.springgate: Considering they only play 19 games against the Royals this year, that’s probably not a great trend

Alex Campbell: we’ve been horrible against everyone else, which maybe isn’t a coincidence when you consider that the Royals are just as bad as the Sox are

the best part of this weird success against KC is the Matt Davidson portion

logan.springgate: He’s got like 5 homers against them right?

Alex Campbell: Matt Davidson has 11 home runs this season

he hit 3 on opening day [in Kansas City] alone

his 7 home runs in Kauffman stadium are the most there by an opponent in a season

he did that by the end of April

logan.springgate: and he has 12 games to go

Alex Campbell: Yup.

the one other bright spot for the Sox has been Yolmer Sanchez, who actually plays third base most of the time while Davidson DHs

fun fact, he leads baseball with 4 triples

logan.springgate: Yeah he’s been solid for sure. Triples are so random. Evan Gattis led the majors in triples a few years back.

Literally no one in AL Central has been good so far, where do you think the Sox are going to finish in their division?

Alex Campbell: Probably 4th, the Sox have potential to be better but I don’t really think Kansas City does; I think the Sox have a higher ceiling than the Tigers but we’ve dug ourselves a hole that will be hard to get out of

logan.springgate: My preseason guess would’ve been 3rd. I don’t think the Tigers are as good as they’ve played so far, but the Sox are pretty far back.

Alex Campbell: right that’s where I had them finishing as well, and I still can’t figure out what the Twins are

logan.springgate: The Twins are what the Angels were last year. A roughly .500 team that’s going to miss out on the wild cards.

Alex Campbell: sounds about right

logan.springgate: Let’s move on to the Cubs before we wrap this up

Alex Campbell: agreed, so do you think they’ve actually turned a corner over the last week or so?

I guess they did lose to the Braves today which doesn’t really fit that narrative

logan.springgate: The bats look like they have for sure. This is the hitting note that I teased earlier: Rizzo, Bryant, and Willson all have an OPS over 1.000 so far in May.

Alex Campbell: That’s certainly promising

logan.springgate: Rizzo and Contreras had been so brutal to start the season. Rizzo was literally hitting under .200 until a week ago, so I think his back was still messing with him and he’s actually healthy now. Idk what was wrong with Contreras, but he crushed the Sox all on his own in the first two games of the series.

Also based on run differential, the Cubs should have 3 or 4 more wins than they currently do

Alex Campbell: both Contreras and Baez seem to rely so heavily on confidence, and Contreras definitely looked like he had it back again the Sox; Rizzo is a guy I think you have to expect to recover from a start like that, which as you said he’s well on his way to doing

logan.springgate: I haven’t gotten deep into the stats about what’s wrong with the back half of the starting rotation. The Cubs need Darvish/Quintana/Chatwood to be better than they have been.

Right now, that’s definitely the biggest problem

Alex Campbell: Yu Darvish is to the Milwaukee Brewers as Matt Davidson is to the Kansas City Royals

You’ve gotta think Darvish and Quintana will get it together at some point right?

logan.springgate: I won’t be able to find the tweet, but Quintana has actually been pretty good against everyone other than Atlanta. Ozzie Albies has crushed him and one of those starts was the sloppy winter game.

Idk what to say about Darvish. He definitely is having some mechanical issues, but I have no idea if that’s injury related or just mechanics.

Alex Campbell: We’ve seen issues before with guys who pitched in Asia when they get to be his age, you’d hope he isn’t just out of gas at this point

and if he’s injured, shut him down until he’s ready, no point sending him out there to get hit around if it’s also making some underlying issue worse

logan.springgate: I think part of it is mental too. I don’t have anything other than anecdote to support this, but it seems like as soon as one thing goes wrong, he falls apart.

He’s been on the DL with the flu and will be back tomorrow, so I guess we’ll see about that

Alex Campbell: Indeed we will

so as things stand the Cubs are in 4th place, as the NL Central seems to be the exact opposite of the AL Central

logan.springgate: Overall, I don’t believe in the Brewers or the Pirates, but I’m more scared of the Cardinals than I was before the season.

Alex Campbell: I thought the Brewers and Cardinals had potential this year, but I definitely expect the Pirates to fade

logan.springgate: For the Cards, Miles Mikolas seems like he’s for real and if they can ever get Wainwright out of the lineup, they’ve got young arms at AAA that are major league ready.

The Brewers are so shallow at starting pitcher and I think that’s coming for them hard and fast

Alex Campbell: there’s talk about them trying to trade for Chris Archer, which would help, but without starting pitching depth you aren’t going anywhere fast

logan.springgate: Oh bring on Archer

He gives up so many home runs, the Cubs will eat him alive

Alex Campbell: I think the Brewers maybe can hang in the wild card hunt but I assume they’ll end up in third

gut feeling right now, do the Cubs win the division?

logan.springgate: Yeah I think so. Somewhere right before or right after the all-star break, I think they’ll remember that they’re a World Series contender and start to run away with it. Nothing crazy, but win it by like 5 games

Alex Campbell: That sounds entirely reasonable

so, in summary we think both our teams will finish better than they started; the difference is for the Cubs that would mean a run at another World Series and for the Sox it means not setting any records for being the worst team in MLB history

logan.springgate: I can’t wait for the second half of this season series. It’s at the end of September so the Cubs probably won’t be playing for anything and the Sox are still going to be terrible. Maybe even worse if they trade Avi Garcia and other people.

Alex Campbell: Avi Garcia could be gone for sure if he hits well once his hamstring heals

on the more exciting side of things, Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez might both be up by then

I can’t wait for Quintana vs Jimenez

logan.springgate: So I think that’s about all for now, not sure how frequently we’ll do these chats, but I like them so there will probably be at least a couple more throughout the season.

Alex Campbell: For sure, at a minimum another one for the second Crosstown Series but I’m sure we can come up with another reason to do one between now and then.

Otherwise, we’ll have continuing weekly Sox and Cubs coverage in the “This Week in Chicago Sports” blogs as well as a couple feature blogs on each team along the way I would imagine. Follow @soupweek_blog on Twitter to keep up with all of that. If you’ve made it to the end, thanks for reading!

Footnotes:

  1. Sammy Sosa never actually played against the Cubs when he was with the White Sox from 1989-91. Interleague play started in 1997.
  2. I can’t find an article about it, but MLB changed their scheduling in 2016 or 2017 to frontload and backload the schedule with divisional games.

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