Chicago Cubs vs Chicago White Sox (5/28/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

The Chicago cross-town rivalry always brings out the animosity in the Windy City. Northsiders vs Southsiders. American League vs National League. Cubs vs White Sox.

If lines came out for this game in late March, the White Sox would’ve opened at higher than -200. But that’s not how baseball works.

The White Sox have gotten off to a 22-22 start. The team that was heavily favored to win the AL Central has fallen into a 4.5-game hole to the Minnesota Twins. That’s not to mention the White Sox’s -42 run differential.

The Cubs are 18-26, but at least they were expected to be bad. Cubs fans are eagerly watching breakout rookie star Seiya Suzuki, who has been in an everlasting slump since May started.

No matter the talent on the two teams, this is a headliner matchup that will attract the casuals as well as die-hard fans.

Who has the edge?

Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Saturday matchup.

Chicago Cubs vs Chicago White Sox Odds

The most interesting part of this handicap is White Sox starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. After joining the Sox a few weeks ago, he’s started his Southside career with 12 spotless innings. He struck out seven Royals and five Yankees during the two starts, and both the efforts came on the road.

So, is he undervalued or overvalued?

The Cubs are obviously going to get plus-money odds in this matchup, no matter the starter. But is +130 enough juice to consider value with the Cubbies?

I don’t see much value on the 8.5 total. Although four of the last five meetings between these two have gone under the listed total.

Chicago Cubs Starting Lineup

CF C. Morel R
C W. Contreras R
LF I. Happ S
RF S. Suzuki R
DH F. Schwindel R
3B P. Wisdom R
1B A. Rivas L
SS N. Hoerner R
2B A. Simmons R

Chicago Cubs vs Johnny Cueto

Everyone knows Cueto from his unique delivery, wherein he changes the timing of initiating his motion to keep hitters off-balance.

But after three straight seasons with San Francisco in which he posted an ERA over 4.00 – two of those with an ERA over 5.00 – Cueto looks unstoppable in 2022.

I have two questions:

  1. Has Cueto changed the way he pitches? If so, how?
  2. Is this sustainable?

The answer to the first question is yes. Cueto has ditched his four-seam in favor of a sinker-slider combination, and he’s totally abandoned his curveball (although it was a short-lived pitch).

Plus, Cueto picked up an extra tick of velocity on both his fastball and slider. As a result, eight of those 12 strikeouts have come on the sinker or slider, while four have come on the four-seam.

I am not yet prepared to answer the second question. Cueto pairs his 0.00 ERA with a 3.30 xFIP, but he hasn’t accomplished an xFIP that low since 2014 with Cincinnati.

Obviously, regression is coming, and nobody is expecting him to post a 0.00 ERA for the rest of the year. But, how much regression?

Whatever the answer, I wouldn’t expect the Cubs to do much damage. The Cubbies have posted the fourth-lowest wRC+ over the past month (88), and they have the third-highest strikeout rate during that time (25.8%).

On April 29, Suzuki’s OPS dropped below 1.000 for the first time in his career. Since that moment, Suzuki is slashing .183/.253/.293 with 30 strikeouts in 91 PAs. It’s been disastrous for the man once considered a lock to win NL ROY.

Suzuki’s low BABIP during the streak will come around, but his lack of plate discipline is concerning.

Chicago White Sox Starting Lineup

SS T. Anderson R
3B Y. Moncada S
1B J. Abreu R
LF A. Vaughn R
C Y. Grandal S
CF AJ Pollock R
RF A. Engel R
DH J. Burger R
2B J. Harrison R

Chicago White Sox vs Keegan Thompson

The young prospect Keegan Thompson has been surprising in the early part of 2022. He’s pitched to a 1.54 ERA through 35 innings.

His 3.76 xFIP shows he’s due for regression, but I’m still very impressed. Thompson’s fastball-cutter-curveball mix has been keeping hitters off-balance all season, and he ranks above the 90th percentile in avg. exit velocity allowed as a result (85.7mph).

In fact, his entire Baseball Savant page inspires confidence.


Screen Shot 2022 05 27 at 5.40.57 PM

Image credit: Baseball Savant

The White Sox’s offense started off pathetic. While the bats have rebounded, it hasn’t been too impressive.

In fact, the White Sox have been the definition of a league-average offense over the last month. The White Sox have exactly a 100 wRC+ over the past 30 days, and they have the third-lowest walk rate (6.3%) in MLB during that stretch.

Chicago Cubs vs Chicago White Sox Pick & Prediction

My pick: Chicago Cubs ML (+135 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

I think Thompson might be undervalued. Obviously, he’s a reliever who is making just his third turn through the rotation. But he’s provided nine innings through his two starts so far, allowing just two earned runs in the process – both those came against the Padres, as he shut out the PIrates.

Meanwhile, Cueto must be overvalued. He’s not going to blank every team he faces over the rest of the season, and Saturday is a good time for him to see some of that regression.

Both offenses are bad, although the White Sox have been slightly better. But the tipping point for me has been the bullpens.

The White Sox’s bullpen was expected to be a powerhouse, but it ranks just 16th in reliever xFIP this season (3.89). Meanwhile, the Cubs bullpen was expected to be a mess, and it currently paces the league in reliever xFIP (3.19).

In a potential reliever game for the Cubs, that’s the difference. And at plus-money odds, I can’t help but back the Cubs on the road here.

Bet the Cubbies to +125.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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