Cubs, White Sox Preview: South-Siders Earn Buzz Thanks To Splashy Offseason

Posted on July 24, 2020 - Last Updated on July 25, 2020

The Cubs and White Sox will kick off their 2020 MLB season on Friday night.

The Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field, while the Chicago White Sox will welcome the Minnesota Twins to Guaranteed Rate Field.

Finally. if you’re a Sox fan, the wait has been a special kind of excruciating.

General Manager Rick Hahn dished out gobs of money this offseason, adding Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion and Dallas Keuchel in free agency. Mega-prospect Luis Robert also signed a contract extension in the winter, meaning he’ll start the year in the majors and both parties will avoid the typical service time tomfoolery.

Meanwhile, the Cubs didn’t make many changes to a roster that won 84 games in 2019. But they replaced Joe Maddon with David Ross, who will navigate his first season as a manager amid unusual circumstances.

2020 Cubs, White Sox odds

BetRivers is the only live mobile sportsbook in Illinois right now.

But if Illinoisans would rather trek over to Indiana to find the best odds, we’ve included a few live IN books, too. Also note that DraftKings, which is live in Indiana, has the same odds as BetRivers.

Here are some notable Cubs and White Sox odds:

2020 World Series odds

TeamBetRiversBetMGMPointsBet
Cubs+2200+2500+2500
White Sox+2400+2500+3300

2020 win total odds

TeamBetRiversBetMGMPointsBet
Cubs OVER32.5 (-112)32.5 (-110)31.5 (-110)
Cubs UNDER32.5 (-112)32.5 (-110)31.5 (-110)
White Sox OVER31.5 (-124)31.5 (-110)31.5 (-110)
White Sox UNDER31.5 (+100)31.5 (-110)31.5 (-110)

2020 NL Central winner odds

TeamBetRiversBetMGMPointsBet
Cubs+225+240+215
Reds+230+275+260
Cardinals+240+240+240
Brewers+325+300+320
Pirates+7000+5000+4000

2020 AL Central winner odds

TeamBetRiversBetMGMPointsBet
Twins-130-159-130
Indians+265+300+220
White Sox+285+320+330
Royals+8000+8000+3000
Tigers+8000+8000+6600

Big improvement expected from White Sox

The Cubs won 12 more games than the Sox last year, yet their projected 2020 win totals are neck-and-neck. But as it turns out, the White Sox have improved about as much as anyone in baseball since last season.

PointsBet, for instance, offers regular-season win percentage lines (which, obviously, correlate with win totals). The Sox are listed at 52.5 despite winning just 44.7% of their games in 2019. Only the Angels have a higher projected jump the buzz on the South Side is real.

The odds listed above are pretty much in line with the latest ZiPS projections, which put the Sox at 31 wins. They have the sixth-easiest strength of schedule, according to the algorithm, but that’s a bit deceiving for long-term purposes. Because the clubs with the two easiest schedules?

The Twins and Indians. It figures to be a fun three-horse race in the AL Central this summer.

Cubs still have better playoff chance

Despite similar win totals and World Series odds, the Cubs have a better chance to win their division.

The Cubs didn’t change much of their roster that underwhelmed in 2019, but one can see the reasons for optimism.

For starters, while the 84-win total was (rightfully) considered a disappointment, the Cubs were also unlucky. Their Pythagorean record, which is calculated by run differential, was 90-72 last season. It may be fair to point to bullpen woes and offensive inconsistency as reasons why the Cubs underachieved.

Still, the Pythagorean record is generally a better future indicator than the raw winning percentage. So, because the Cubs return most of last season’s roster, it’s reasonable to think they could improve by simply having better luck.

Also, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras led Cubs hitters in wins above replacement in 2019. Rizzo just turned 30, and he’s the youngest of that bunch. While the variance is going to be at an all-time high due to the 60-game season, the Cubs shouldn’t have to worry about statistical regression due to aging.

ZiPS projects the Cubs will win the division at 32 games, but has three teams the Brewers, Cardinals and Reds one game behind them. The margin for error will be slim. A side note: Milwaukee may be undervalued based on the discrepancy between ZiPS projections and odds.

Bottom line? It’s fun to be talking about stuff like this again. Bring on baseball.

Joe Boozell Avatar
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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