The crosstown series starts this Friday. It's still sponsored by BP, which is one year closer to being a fact they don't have to de-emphasize out of embarrassment.
Both the Cubs and Sox have losing records and rather mundane future outlooks, so the running narrative is that the rivalry is unimportant and lifeless now. That seems to run counter to the idea of a rivalry, which is supposed to be an important game regardless of context.
If both teams were running hot, it'd be a big series, but the same thing could be said if the Sox were playing the Yankees.
Jon Greenberg got Konerko to admit that the showdown "the next-best thing to the playoffs". It should at least offer the next-highest attendance and noise level, which--barring a beer shower--is the primary impact on the players.
Humber starting things off
Philip Humber will grab the first start of the series, and is coming off his first encouraging outing since the perfect game. He rode his curveball hard last Sunday against Kansas City (32 throws, 23 strikes, 5 swings-and-misses), and since it was the first spate of decent results he had gotten from any of his breaking pitches in a while, the strategy was understandable.
Humber threw seven shutout innings in Wrigley Field last season, where he faced a Cubs lineup that had at most, four of the same hitters he'll see on Friday. All of whom were probably seeing Humber for the first time. So that's something to keep in mind each time that specific start is brought up as being relevant to how he'll perform.
So long, Eric Stults
When the White Sox brought Jesse Crain off of the DL, they had to designate Stults for assignment to make room. As it would turn out, he was claimed by the San Diego Padres before clearing waivers, presumably on the strength of the functional start he made against the Indians during the second half of a doubleheader the Monday before last.
Like Jeff Gray last year, Stults has been snatched up before he could tarnish his sterling White Sox record, which his professional profile suggests that he was bound to do with more opportunities
Playing time for the weekend
It's already been established that Adam Dunn is being switched to left field to keep his bat in the lineup. Without getting into a long discussion on defensive metrics, attempts to measure Dunn's range usually produce large numbers with negatives in front of them. It's a calculated risk to put him out there.
In turn, the red-hot Viciedo is being sat, and there's not much leeway on that. Ventura dismissed any notions of doubling down on defensive risk by putting Dayan at 3rd, though how much longer Morel will be allowed to play very, very poorly is a legitimate question.
Tyler Flowers hasn't played since last Sunday despite two left-handed starters this week, and Ventura has not specified any specific game for Pierzynski to get a day off. A.J.--who probably considers playing till he dies on the field a romantic notion--has assured Ventura that he feels fine.