5 things to know about the Cubs as they head into series with White Sox
Five things about the Cubs heading into the weekend series against the White Sox on the South Side:
Playing the long game
Anyone could see the Cubs didn't put much effort into improving the team last offseason and it shows. Their chances of even distant wild-card contention are fading fast with the current 18-26 record.
Overall, starting pitching has been the weakest spot. The Cubs rank 26th in starter ERA at 4.86. They're a bit better, yet mediocre, in things like runs scored (11th), OPS (15th) and bullpen ERA (18th).
Another sell-off at the trade deadline certainly seems possible. One player who figures to stay in the long-term plans, right fielder Seiya Suzuki, is questionable for this series after suffering a jammed finger on Thursday. Catcher Willson Contreras and shortstop Nico Hoerner should be healthy after missing time with minor injuries.
Most good news is minor
Have you heard? The Cubs have the best minor league winning percentage in baseball. The problem is, it's concentrated at the lower levels.
The Low A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, led by Pete Crow-Armstrong and James Triantos, had won 10 straight heading into Friday's action, and own the best record in the minor leagues at 30-11.
Class A means those prospects are a long way from helping the Clark and Addison Cubs, and the probability of failure looms large. One of the highest-ranked prospects, shortstop Christian Hernandez, is still waiting the start of the Arizona rookie league.
In other words, it will be a while before much help from the minors arrives. Right-handed pitcher Caleb Kilian seems ready for a promotion, but manager David Ross said it won't happen this week. Outfielder Brennen Davis, the Cubs' top-ranked prospect, is recovering from a back injury.
Versatile Christopher Morel has done well since making his major league debut May 17 and will likely continue to hit in the leadoff spot this weekend. The question is whether he'll stay in the majors once Nick Madrigal (back) and David Bote (shoulder) return from injuries.
Power numbers trending up
During the past 15 days, the Cubs are second in the majors in home runs with 22. Going back-to-back is their new thing. That's happened four times in the last eight games.
Third baseman Patrick Wisdom is the only Cubs player in double digits with 10 home runs. He also leads the majors in strikeouts with 61.
Better with bags packed
The Cubs were 7-2 on the road in May until dropping the last two games in Cincinnati. So maybe the White Sox will see a better version of the Cubs this weekend.
Wrigley Field is supposed to be a selling point to potential players, but the Cubs have a 7-15 home record, third-worst in the majors.
Early to the plate
The Cubs rank second in the majors, behind the Angels, in runs scored in the first inning. Obviously, those early leads don't always hold up.
For sports gamblers, when making the popular NRFI (no runs in first inning) bets, better to avoid the North Siders.