As usual, there are going to be plenty of storylines as the White Sox and Cubs play the second of two interleague series Monday-Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Here are some of the hot topics:
ŸCan the White Sox pull off another three-game sweep and become the first team to go 6-0 since the Chicago series debuted in 1997?
ŸHow many seats are going to be empty at the Cell?
The Sox hosted the Cubs in a three-game weekday series last year and none of the games sold out.
At Wrigley Field in May, neither the Friday nor the Sunday game sold out, either.
ŸIs Ryan Dempster going to make his scheduled start for the Cubs on Wednesday night?
Or, is the veteran right-hander going to be traded? Any chance he simply walks across the field and joins the White Sox?
ŸFor the first-place Sox, who finally got it going after sweeping the Cubs last month, the starting rotation is at the forefront.
After Saturday night’s 5-4 win over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium, the White Sox shook up their scheduled rotation.
Jake Peavy was expected to start Monday night’s opener, but he’ll be pushed back a day.
Zach Stewart comes out of the bullpen to start the first game against the Cubs, and Gavin Floyd’s start has been moved from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Chris Sale was supposed to start Wednesday, but he’ll get an extra two days rest before taking the mound Friday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Sox take pride in protecting their starting pitchers.
Last year, they had a deep rotation and used six starters for a long stretch.
The White Sox are much thinner with starters this season, especially with John Danks still on the disabled list with a sore shoulder.
Stewart has struggled out of the bullpen, going 1-1 with a 5.18 ERA. The right-hander did make 11 starts with the Blue Jays in Sox in 2011, so he should have some level of comfort.
In past seasons, the Sox have said they would be willing to take a loss if meant keeping their starters healthy.
Letting Stewart make a spot start is a perfect example of the philosophy.
Peavy has been able to make every start this season, but he has a history of injuries and the White Sox are keeping a close eye on the 30-year-old pitcher.
As for Sale, he’s been fine since experiencing elbow discomfort in April.
But the more rest the Sox can give the lanky left-hander, the better.
“That’s something that’s been thought of, even with Jake, giving him an extra day here and there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters Sunday. “It’s worked out well lately for both of them (Peavy and Sale), and I’d like to keep that going.”
As for the series, the crowds at the Cell should be much bigger than normal, even if none of the three games sell out.
The White Sox are looking to feed off the energy as they go for the season sweep.
“Interleague is kind of a change of pace for everyone, especially with a rivalry like the one with the Cubs,” Adam Dunn said after the White Sox won three straight at Wrigley last month. “It kind of adds a little extra incentive. For us to come out and play well for three games was kind of the icing on the cake.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.