Cubs, ChiSox In Windy City Battle

Charlie Boccanegra | Updated Oct 04, 2017

New York. Los Angeles. The Bay Area. None of those places can boast two first-place baseball teams right now. One place can, though, and those teams meet this weekend in a matchup that’s particularly fascinating from a baseball betting perspective.

The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox will both take a lead in their respective divisions into their weekend interleague series at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have been able to hold off the St. Louis Cardinals for top spot in the NL Central to date, while the surprising White Sox have seen their biggest AL Central rivals struggle to start the year.

However, the ChiSox did run into some trouble against one of those rivals last week, as the Tigers swept them in Detroit. That snapped a seven-game winning streak for the club. The White Sox began this latest interleague stretch with a series loss to the Rockies, but they took out their frustrations on the Pirates Tuesday night, winning 16-5.

The Cubs had won or tied every series in the month of June until this past week, when they were beaten back-to-back by Tampa Bay. Lou Piniella’s club had previously picked up series wins over the Padres, Braves (a sweep), and Blue Jays this month, and they split a four-game series with the Dodgers. The Cubs played Tampa again on Thursday.

Both the Cubs and the White Sox will be missing key offensive players in this series, and the baseball odds take account of this. Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano went on the disabled list last week with a broken hand, and he could be out of action for six weeks. White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko is on the DL with a strained oblique, but he’ll probably be back around the end of the month.

With Konerko out the White Sox will be looking for a hot stretch from Nick Swisher, who has been a disappointment at the plate this season. Swisher has at least been able to raise his batting average over the .220 mark in recent days, but he still hasn’t been showing much power. The ChiSox offense has been led by the trio of Carlos Quentin, Joe Crede, and Jermaine Dye this year, with catcher A.J. Pierzynski contributing as well.

Soriano was leading the Cubs in home runs before his injury, so they’ll be lacking some power this weekend as well. Still, the Cubs haven’t had much trouble with their offense, with the likes of Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Geovany Soto, and Mark DeRosa posting good stats (even creaky veteran Jim Edmonds has hit well since arriving there).

The Cubs will throw Ted Lilly (7-5, 4.76 ERA), Jason Marquis (5-3, 4.24 ERA), and Ryan Dempster (8-2, 2.76 ERA) against their rival. Carlos Zambrano pitched on Wednesday, so he’ll miss this series. Lilly has won two straight and finally has his ERA below 5.00. Marquis has not lost since May 13, and Dempster has not lost since May 20.

The White Sox are expected to counter with John Danks (4-4, 2.90 ERA), Jose Contreras (6-5, 3.24 ERA), and Javier Vazquez (7-5, 4.13 ERA). Danks threw six scoreless innings against the Rockies last time out (in a no-decision), while Contreras has lost two straight starts. Vazquez has allowed five runs in each of his last two outings.

Friday’s series opener is a 2:20pm ET matinee, with Saturday’s game getting started at 1:05pm ET. The finale of this interleague series will start at 8:05pm ET on Sunday night.