White Sox

CSN's Top 20 basketball rankings

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CSN's Top 20 basketball rankings

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (18-1)

Results: Lost to Findlay Prep 75-50; Defeated Urban Prep 83-39, Vocational 63-42 and Southwind TN 73-54

This Week: Wednesday vs. Bogan, Friday at Harlan

Hoops Talk: The Wolverines get back on track after Mondays humbling defeat. Wednesdays game at 81st & Vincennes could have game-of-the-year potential.

2 Proviso East (16-0)

Results: Defeated Downers Grove South 78-70 and Leyden 70-49

This Week: Saturday at Addison Trail

Hoops Talk: The road to the West Suburban Gold title now goes through Maywood, but Paris Lee and the Pirates are thinking much bigger.

3 Curie (17-1)

Results: Defeated North Chicago 88-80 OT, Lindblom 75-35, Dunbar 69-54 and Whitney Young 59-47

This Week: Monday at Kenwood, Tuesday at DuSable, Thursday vs. Harper, Sunday vs. Leo

Hoops Talk: The Condors are playing eight games in two weeks, but Cliff Alexander, Malcolm Hill-Bey and Devin Foster havent hit the brakes yet.
4 Warren (13-2)

Results: Defeated Downers Grove South 64-63 OT

This Week: Tuesday vs. Stevenson, Saturday vs. Mundelein

Hoops Talk: The last of Darius Pauls 26 points against DGS was the most importantthe free throw with no time left in OT. He also grabbed 12 rebounds.
5 Andrew (13-0)

Results: No games played last week

This Week: Tuesday at Tinley Park, Friday at Lincoln-Way West

Hoops Talk: The Thunderbolts showdown at Thornwood was postponed Friday due to the snow. Andrew is one of the three remaining undefeated teams.
6 Elgin (16-1)

Results: Defeated Huntley 58-44

This Week: Thursday vs. St. Charles North

Hoops Talk: The Maroons get another signature win, thanks to senior Kory Brown. He scored a career-high 30 points against Huntley.

7 Bogan (19-1)

Results: Defeated Morgan Park 59-54 and Bradford WI 69-33

This Week: Tuesday vs. Harlan, Wednesday at Simeon

Hoops Talk: The Bengals could be the talk of the town come Wednesday night. Do they have what it takes to take down No. 1 Simeon?

8 Plainfield East (14-1)

Results: Defeated Naperville Central 66-51; Lost to Larkin 70-67

This Week: Tuesday vs. Glenbard South, Friday vs. Oswego, Saturday at Plainfield South

Hoops Talk: East went scoreless for 3.5 minutes in the fourth against Larkin. Dee Brown, Brian Bennett, Jawan Straughter and company look to bounce back.

9 De La Salle (13-2)

Results: No games played last week

This Week: Tuesday vs. St. Joseph, Friday at Loyola

Hoops Talk: Last Fridays St. Ignatius game rescheduled for 222. Tuesdays game will serve as a rematch from December 9th, won by the Meteors (62-52).

10 New Trier (17-2)

Results: Defeated Buffalo Grove 57-33, Niles West 67-43 and Taft 82-51

This Week: Friday at Glenbrook South

Hoops Talk: Future Ivy-Leaguers Connor Boehm (Dartmouth) and Steven Cook (Princeton) keep the Trevians rolling.
11 Downers Grove South (13-4)

Results: Lost to Proviso East 78-70, Warren 64-63 OT

This Week: Friday at Hinsdale South, Saturday vs. Morton

Hoops Talk: Two games, two losses to top 10 opponents. Jerron Wilbut and Kevin Honn played starring roles against Warren, each scoring 20 points.

12 Huntley (15-2)

Results: Defeated Jacobs 50-37; Lost to Elgin 58-44

This Week: Tuesday vs. Cary-Grove, Saturday at Dundee-Crown

Hoops Talk: Justin Frederick and 6-6 sophomore Amanze Egekeze each had 11 points for Huntley against Elgin, but the Red Raiders couldnt contain Kory Brown.

13 St. Ignatius (14-2)

Results: Defeated Brooks 74-44

This Week: Friday vs. Hales

Hoops Talk: The Wolfpack continue to be one of Chicagolands most balanced teamsfive in double figures Sunday against Brooks.

14 Marshall (18-4)

Results: Defeated Whitney Young 79-75 OT and Madison-Milwaukee WI 67-58

This Week: Wednesday at Orr

Hoops Talk: The Commandos, paced by Korbin McClain and Milton Doyle, are red hot. They are all by themselves in first in the Red-West.

15 Metea Valley (16-1)

Results: Defeated Rich Central 96-88 OT

This Week: Tuesday vs. Bartlett, Saturday at South Elgin

Hoops Talk: Senior guard Kenny Obendorf and the Mustangs have been more than impressive in the programs second year of varsity-level play.
16 Hillcrest (15-4)
Results: Defeated Richards 61-48 and Bremen 66-32; Lost to Farragut 59-53

This Week: Tuesday at Crete-Monee, Friday vs. T.F. North

Hoops Talk: Two nice South Suburban wins, but the Hawks ran into a block party on Sunday. Farraguts Rashaun Stimage stuffed Hillcrest 13 times.

17 Whitney Young (8-7)

Results: Lost to Marshall 79-75 OT, Curie 59-47

This Week: Wednesday vs. Collins, Thursday vs. Soldan International Studies (in St. Louis), Sunday vs. Trinity (in Louisville)

Hoops Talk: Like Downers Grove South, the Dolphins lose two hard-fought games to ranked competition. Paul White continues to complement Jahlil Okafor well.

18 Bloom (14-3)

Results: Lost to Sandburg 47-43 OT

This Week: Tuesday at Homewood-Flossmoor, Friday vs. Rich Central

Hoops Talk: Shocking loss to Sandburg-- a game where the Trojans led by 9 with 1:43 to go. It doesnt get any easier, as a talented H-F team is lurking.

19 Crane (13-4)

Results: Defeated Cody MI 2-0 (forfeit), Collins 69-50, T.F. North 66-62 OT, Tremper WI 53-49

This Week: Wednesday vs. Manley, Saturday vs. Paducah Tillman (Louisville KY), Sunday vs. TBA (Louisville KY)

Hoops Talk: Isaiah Hayes, Chris Davis and Willie Conner help lead Chris Heads team back into the CSN Top 20.

20 Hope Academy (16-2)

Results: No games played last week

This Week: Tuesday vs. Lake Forest Academy, Thursday at Chicagoland Jewish, Friday at St. Benedict

Hoops Talk: Hope, which includes senior forward Torrance Johnson, continues to make waves in the Chicago Prep. But will the team win without Jalen James?

Looming & Lurking: Dunbar, Farragut, Naperville North, West Aurora, Foreman, Herscher, St. Viator, Lemont, Homewood-Flossmoor, Seton, St. Rita, North Chicago, Notre Dame, Crete-Monee.
NOTE: This weeks schedule may change, due to the rescheduling of games from Fridays inclement weather

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Tyler Chatwood looked to be turning the corner with his control issues, but alas, he and the Cubs aren't so lucky.

After walking only two batters in a solid start in Atlanta last week, Chatwood had taken a big step in the right direction. It was, after all, only the third time he'd walked fewer than 5 batters in an outing this season.

Those control woes reared their ugly heads once again Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in a 10-1 loss to the Indians. Chatwood walked 6 batters and managed to net only 8 outs, getting hammered for 4 runs in the third inning.

"Ugh, it was tough," Maddon said. "The stuff was so good, we just couldn't get a strike."

"It's definitely frustrating," Chatwood said, "because one at-bat, I'll feel really good and the next one, I feel like I'm fighting myself.

"Last time [out], I was able to stay in the rhythm. Tonight, I was kinda battling, rushing rather than staying back, so it's just keeping that feeling and maintaining that."

His season ERA is only 3.74, which looks good until you consider his WHIP is 1.62 and he's walked 40 batters in 45.2 innings with only 41 strikeouts in the process. He now leads baseball in walks per 9 innings.

Chatwood said earlier this month in St. Louis that he's figured out what has led to the startling lack of control and while he didn't elaborate on the mechanical issue, he was working hard at correcting the problem in bullpens.

He's also used the term "fighting myself" at least a dozen times this month alone and it's become a common refrain for his explanation of what's going on. 

"He's got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball," Maddon said. "He's kinda busy what he does with his hands. It's not like he can just change it easily because that's how his arm works, how his body works.

"Sometimes, like you see him the other day, everything's on time and how good it can be and when it's out of sorts a bit, then all of the sudden it becomes shotgun. Ah man, you can see the movement [on his pitches] from the side, how good it is. 

"We gotta harness it somehow. I spoke to him briefly on the bench; I reassured him it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be really good by the end of the year. We gotta figure it out and he knows that. But man, that's good stuff. We just gotta get it in the zone."

Chatwood also admitted part of the problem is mental in that he's trying to force pitches rather than trusting his stuff. He's also gotten into the bad habit of drifting down the mound, though he's not sure when or where he picked up that hitch in his delivery.

Chatwood and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey are working on slowing his delivery down to get his arm in the same spot on a more consistent basis.

When the Cubs signed Chatwood over the winter, it was easy to see why.

He just turned 28 in December, his peripherals and a move from hitter-friendly Coors Field foretold a potential leap in performance and his stuff is nasty. Plus, he signed a three-year deal at a relative bargain of $38 million.

Once the Cubs signed Yu Darvish in spring training, you could make the case that Chatwood could be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball.

Nine starts later, the honeymoon period is well over with Chatwood, as he threw only 30 of his 74 pitches for strikes Tuesday night and sent catcher Willson Contreras sailing all around home plate for pitches way out of the zone.

Still, it's clear to see there is some intriguing talent there and the season there is roughly 70 percent of the season remaining before the Cubs make what they hope is another run at the World Series.

"I have a lot of faith," Maddon said. "I know we're gonna reap the rewards, the benefits as he figures this thing out."