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While being swept by the Reds in a four game series makes it easy to dump on the Cubs, there are some other, more logical reasons to think that come 2020, the White Sox will be better than the Cubs.
Start with the starters
Carlos Rodon may be the best starting pitcher in Chicago in 2020. Right now that title belongs to Jon Lester. Thus far this season, the Cubs pitching has carried an inconsistent offense. Lester has been backed by Jose Quintana and a home run plagued Kyle Hendricks. Mike Montgomery has actually been the Cubs second best starter this season. Tyler Chatwood has been a right handed version of Mitch”Wild Thing” Williams and Yu Darvish has been a waste. By 2020 I would guess that Lester will be in decline, with Hendricks and Quintana still being solid middle of the rotation starters. I suspect the Sox rotation will be better.
As is the case with so many pitchers, health will be a key to the success of Sox starters. Carlos Rodon can be a top of the rotation starter now. Reynaldo Lopez has had some of his best games undermined by Nate Jones, but projects as a possible two starter by 2020. Since coming back from Charlotte, Dylan Covey has looked like a solid MLB starter. Lucas Giolito still has an ERA of over 7.00, but I suspect, at some point, he will be a functional 3/4 starter.
Down on the farm....
Beyond what’s at the major league level, the White Sox have a bunch of starting pitching prospects that could surface in the next couple of seasons. The Cubs system is pretty well dry. Michael Kopech is the big name in the Sox system, but Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning should also be helpful soon. It should be noted that Dunning left Sunday’s start with an elbow issue. Hopefully it won’t prove to be a problem long term.
Will the young Cubs improve?
Much is made of the Cubs young position players, but progress hasn’t been what was hoped for in most cases. At one time it seemed the Cubs could have traded Kyle Schwarber for Andrew Miller. I doubt that’s the case now. Schwarber looks to be a decent major league player, but his ceiling seems to be lowering. Addison Russell’s progress has been less than linear. He’s a great glove guy, but his offense is inconsistent. His future seems a little less bright than was originally thought.
Does anybody know what’s going on with Kris Bryant? Bryant is still a valuable player, but this season hasn’t been close to a MVP year. Willson Contreras has also regressed fairly drastically this season. I have no idea has to why.
The one young guy that has made strides this season is the guy Joe Maddon seemed reluctant to give playing time to, Albert Almora Jr. A big plus for the Cubs has been the improved bat of Jason Heyward. With Jason’s contract, he figures to be with the Cubs in 2020.
For immediate improvement...
For a while, the White Sox were playing one of the worst outfields I’ve ever seen in the majors. The Garcias, Avisail and Leury aren’t great players, but they represent a huge upgrade over what the Sox have been running out to man the perimeter. Eloy Jimenez is coming on fast and has real star potential. The same can be said of Luis Robert, who is about two steps behind Jimenez. There are a number of less heralded outfield prospects who could be knocked on the door in Chicago in 2020.
The Sox infield has got to get better
I still think Yoan Moncada will be an impact offensive player, but I’m much less sold that Tim Anderson will be a shortstop long term. Look for first round draft pick, Nick Madrigal to be in the White Sox middle infield within two years. I think the Sox hold onto Jose Abreu at first.
Will the Sox finally, making catcher a plus position?
I’ve long been frustrated by the lack of quality play the Sox have been getting behind the plate. I think that will be changing. Zach Collins is doing great at AA and looks to have a power/on base game along the lines of Mickey Tettleton. Seby Zavala has been promoted to AAA and could make an impact in Chicago by 2020.
Then there's the unknown
I haven’t projected relief pitching because it’s far too volatile to project two years away. Also, free agency will come into play, and the Sox figure to be players in the market by then. Jon Lester anchored a world championship Cubs team. Maybe the Sox can make that same type of signing.
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