Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Series Preview: White Sox at Cubs

Before you read this abbreviated Series Preview, you should check out this article at The 35th Street Review.  It's a White Sox blog with a sense of humor, and its editor asked the GROTA team to contribute an article.  I got drafted and wrote an epic letter to White Sox fans, and I suspect you won't want to miss it; if only for the Sox-hat-wearing mulleted guy I photoshopped who's got a crack pipe in his hands and a 40 cradled in his arms.  Good times.

So.  With one swift sweep, the Cubs have shattered our confidence.  Carlos is missing a start at the very least, the other Carlos kept missing the plate last night, and in the back of our minds is the epic collapse of '99 which really started at the hands of the White Sox.  I'm not so worried, and although I just made it, I don't think the comparison holds water.  Y'see, the '99 Cubs were comprised mostly of crap.  Outside of Sosa, Grace, and Oh Henry, the offense was mediocre, with perhaps one exception the rotation was weak, and the bullpen was weep-worthy.

This year, even without their best hitting outfielder, the Cubs are an offensively complete team.  Even without their best starting pitcher, they have a rotation that should win more often than it loses.  And even though their top setup man cracked like September 2004's Corey Patterson in every clutch situation he saw, the Cubs have a solid bullpen.

Now, the one thing that we really fail to consider is the mental aspect of the game.  Confidence goes a long way towards success.  If the Cubs are a shaken team - and, crap, they could be - then they might be at the beginning of a very rough patch of road.  But eventually, Soriano will return.  I have a feeling that we haven't seen the last of Carlos, either.  And while we have to wonder if the Cubs will get back to where they need to be, let's not forget that St. Louis just got swept at home by the lowly Royals.  There are definitely bubbles, but still no troubles. 

Okay.  The pitching match-ups:

Friday, June 20th - Ted Lilly vs. John Danks

In 2007, Ted Lilly served a very important role on the team.  He was The Stopper.  He very often won games for the Cubs after the team had lost the previous day.  Lilly has not been the same pitcher so far this year, but if he steps up this afternoon and holds the White Sox down, then that will go a long way toward re-establishing his credibility as a top pitcher, at least for me.

His opponent is 23-year-old John Danks, who is having a spectacular sophomore year after going 6-13 in '07.  Danks did not face the Cubs last year, and he's a lefty, so this might be a low-scoring affair.  Then again, the Cubs just might rip him a new one.  

Saturday, June 21st - Jason Marquis vs. Jose Contreras

Marquis has had 3 good starts in a row - or, at least, 3 starts in which he shut down the opponents' offenses, despite a few road bumps.  I still maintain that he's increasing the value of his bait for a later trade, and an excellent way to showcase his abilities to American League teams would be for him to cut up the first-place White Sox.  We can only hope.

Contreras, meanwhile, has never performed the way the Yankees hoped he would after he floated his way to America five years ago.  However, he does have the occasional ability to stick it to a baseball team.  Depending on whether or not Marquis can continue his recent run of success, this may be a high scoring affair.

Sunday, June 22nd - Ryan Dempster vs. Javier Vazquez

Clownsevelt fill be facing a man who has displayed ace-like tendencies in past seasons.  Dempster needs a solid performance to cement his pending All Star nod, and before we forget, he is undefeated at home.

Vazquez, meanwhile, has logged a lot of innings on that arm and he has always been comparable to Kerry Wood - if Woody had stayed healthy.  So far this year, he's having a decent-if-not fantastic season.  

Predictions: Anything goes.

Let's not forget that the Cubs are a very, very tough team at home.  That's a big advantage for them, even as they try to regain altitude after losing an engine on their left wing.  The White Sox have had a couple of rough patches this month, but they are riding a 3 game sweep of the lowly Pirates and they just might be feeling good about themselves right now.

It'll be an interesting, if not telling series.  I will be on the road and away from the internet, so the next time you'll hear from me will be after it's all over on Sunday night.  Let's hope for good news in all regards at that time.

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