Chicago Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks will try to seize sole possession of the major-league lead in victories on Sunday afternoon when he takes the mound against the host Chicago White Sox.
Hendricks (14-5, 4.09 ERA) is tied for the top spot with Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias. Right-handers Walker Buehler (Dodgers), Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) and Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals) are next with 13 victories apiece.
The win total is no small feat for Hendricks, whose team is 17 games below .500. Hendricks has more than twice as many victories as any other pitcher on the team, with right-handers Zach Davies and Alec Mills next on the list with six apiece.
Hendricks, 31, is the only player remaining from the Cubs’ World Series championship roster in 2016.
“You’ve got to focus on the process right now,” Hendricks said. “This really is valuable experience for everybody here. … You’ve got to roll with the punches in this environment right now. But there’s a lot of guys getting their footing and learning their way, which is really fun to watch, and I think it’ll pay off for us a lot next year.”
This will be Hendricks’ 10th career start against the crosstown rival White Sox. He is 1-4 with a 3.65 ERA in his first nine career matchups.
The White Sox will counter with right-hander Dylan Cease (10-6, 3.92), who is scheduled to make his 27th start of the season. The talented 25-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season with 177 strikeouts in 137 2/3 innings.
Cease has won three straight decisions, including his most recent outing Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. He limited Toronto to one run on four hits while striking out seven in seven innings.
“I was attacking with my fastball well, getting it in and out — not really leaving it down the middle — and then the offspeed was pretty solid, too,” Cease said. “When I have that combination going, I’m hard to hit.”
In three career starts against the Cubs, Cease is 1-2 with a 5.74 ERA. He won his previous start against the Cubs this season, striking out 10 in five innings on Aug. 8 at Wrigley Field.
This will be the rubber match of a three-game series between the White Sox and Cubs. The White Sox stormed back for a 17-13 win in a wild series opener on Friday, and the Cubs responded Saturday with a dominant 7-0 win.
Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom has four home runs in the past two games. He leads the team with 25 homers, a considerable accomplishment for the 30-year-old who entered this season with four career homers.
The White Sox are led by Jose Abreu, who is one RBI shy of 100 for the season. The 34-year-old Abreu is looking to surpass the century mark for the sixth time in eight seasons.
–Field Level Media