After a long nine-game road stand, the Chicago White Sox will return home tonight to take on their cross-town rivals. The once-storied rivalry might feature two deadline sellers this season, but there is still baseball to be played, so we’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing in this one.
The White Sox road trip started on a solid note, winning a series over the Braves in Atlanta fresh out of the break. In a good representation of their overall season, though, the wheels fell off for Chicago on the rest of the trip, as they went on to lose their next series to the Mets and would ultimately finish the trip by getting swept by the Twins. Their 5-4 loss to Minnesota on Sunday not only gave them their third straight loss but would ultimately put them 12.5 games back in the division.
Over the nine games the White Sox have played on the road in the second half, they have allowed five or more runs in six of them. Tonight they will hand the ball to the last person to get them a win, Michael Kopech. The hard-throwing right-hander went 5.2 innings while allowing just one earned run to the Mets in his previous outing to give him his fourth win.
Even in the win, Kopech still displayed a lack of command that has become common for much of this season. With his four walks, the righty has now recorded three or more free passes in five straight starts, which is welcomed news for the Cubs tonight, who rank 8th in walk percentage over the last 30 days against right-handed pitching on the road. The Cubs are also entering today on a three-game win streak after taking three out of four over the Cardinals.
Following their 7-2 win on Sunday, in which Cody Bellinger continued to swing a hot bat, and an off day yesterday, Chicago will send veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks to the mound. Hendricks took a no-decision in his last outing, but he did work six innings with just one earned run.
After both teams got a much-needed off-day yesterday, the Cubs will enter tonight priced at (-115) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Neither offense has been particularly strong in this spot, but the Cubs are entering with momentum at the plate and with their starting pitcher. Hendricks has been phenomenal pitching on the road this season, while Kopech and his consistency have remained a question mark for the White Sox.
In 32 road innings this season, Hendricks is pitching to a 2.53 ERA with a batting average against of .186. The righty induces 8.3% more soft contact when pitching on the road this season, leading to a .198 BAbip and setting up a rough matchup for the White Sox. The home team currently ranks 30th in wRC+, 29th in OPS, and 29th in wOBA against right-handed pitching at home over the last 30 days.
While the Cubs sit right around there in those offensive categories for right-handed pitching on the road over the last 30 days, they will enter tonight after scoring 15 runs over their last two games. The Cubs will also face a starter in Michael Kopech, who has a 5.56 FIP at home, and, as I mentioned previously, has been helping teams get into scoring position by issuing too many free passes.
Chicago Cubs (-115)