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Yankees White Sox Baseball

Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria smiles as he looks to the field before a game against the New York Yankees on Sunday in Chicago. Renteria has been part of rebuilds on both sides of town as manager of the 2014 Cubs and 2019 Sox.

Seventy games into Year 3 of their rebuild, the White Sox are feeling pretty good about themselves.

Despite injuries to starting pitchers Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon, they're hanging around .500 at 34-36 and doing so behind impressive performances from four key rebuild pieces: Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez.

Heading into the opener of the City Series on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, it's a good time to see how the Sox rebuild compares with the Cubs at the same point of their rebuild in 2014.

Record

Sox: 34-36, third place and 13 games back in AL Central; 3 1/2 games back in AL wild-card race.

Cubs: 30-40, last place and 11 1/2 games back in NL Central; eight games back in NL wild-card race.

Synopsis: The Cubs' 2014 season was virtually over at this point, and the only thing Cubs fans were thinking about was when outfielder Jorge Soler, shortstop Javier Baez and starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks would arrive. The Sox remain in the wild-card chase in the top-heavy American League, but management so far hasn't let that affect its game plan, declining to call up top pitching prospect Dylan Cease before they feel he's ready.

Architect

Sox: General manager Rick Hahn.

Cubs: President Theo Epstein.

Synopsis: Both Hahn and Epstein continued to urge patience in mid-June of Year 3. The Cubs selected Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber with the No. 4 pick in the 2014 draft and were about to make a deal for prospect Addison Russell, their third young shortstop with prospect Baez and starter Starlin Castro. "We're not smart enough to know how all the pieces fit together," Epstein said after the deal. "But it's easy to be excited about a lot of the different permutations." Hahn just finished a draft in which the Sox selected Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn with the No. 3 pick, and he soon needs to decide whether to trade veterans Jose Abreu and Alex Colome for more prospects and when to call up Cease. "To stem off the inevitable Dylan Cease question, no one is going to be promoted to Chicago simply because there's a need in Chicago but because it's the best next step in their development," Hahn recently said.

Manager

Sox: Rick Renteria.

Cubs: Rick Renteria.

Synopsis: Renteria was in the first year of a three-year deal with the Cubs, who fired Dale Sveum after 2013 in part for Sveum's "tough love" approach to core players Castro and Anthony Rizzo. There were no expectations put on the '14 Cubs, and Renteria's job basically was to develop the young players and promote positivity. Things were going as expected in mid-June. Now he's in his third year of the Sox rebuild and on Friday reached .500 for the first time this late in a season. Last year Renteria was extended through at least 2020 without an announcement. Hahn revealed the move in November, saying "no one asked" about it. Renteria's handling of the pitching staff will undergo renewed scrutiny if the Sox remain in contention.

Rotation

Sox: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos, Odrisamer Despaigne.

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Cubs: Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Travis Wood.

Synopsis: Giolito evolved from one of the worst starters in the majors last season to one of the best in the first half and figures to be selected to the AL All-Star team, possibly as the starter. Lopez has regressed in his second full season, while the losses of Rodon and Kopech to Tommy John surgery and the disappointment of 2015 first-round pick Carson Fulmer led to patchwork fixes, including Nova and Banuelos.

Jackson was a consensus bust as Epstein's first major free-agent signee, but the rest of the rotation paid dividends. Samardzija had a 2.60 ERA in mid-June of 2014 en route to an All-Star Game selection. He wound up on the AL roster when Epstein sent him and Hammel to the A's on July 5 in a deal that brought back Russell, a highly rated prospect. Arrieta was just starting to show what he could do after being sidelined early with a shoulder injury, striking out a career-high 11 hitters in a 6-1 win over the Marlins on June 18 and improving to 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA.

First-round picks

Sox: They selected first baseman Andrew Vaughn with the No. 3 pick this month after taking third baseman Jake Burger in the first round in 2017 and second baseman Nick Madrigal in 2018.

Cubs: They went with catcher Kyle Schwarber with the fourth pick of the 2014 draft after selecting outfielder Albert Almora Jr. in 2012 and third baseman Kris Bryant in 2013.

Synopsis: Bryant and Schwarber were on fast tracks to the majors and joined the Cubs the next year, when Bryant was named NL Rookie of the Year and Schwarber hit a big home run in the division series clincher against the Cardinals. Burger has been sidelined since spring training of 2018 after rupturing his Achilles tendon, while Madrigal was recently promoted to Double-A Birmingham, where through Saturday he was hitting .438 in nine games with five stolen bases and one strikeout in 35 at-bats.

Core Four

Sox: Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech and Luis Robert.

Cubs: Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora Jr.

Synopsis: Named Minor League Player of the Year in 2014, Bryant went on to win NL MVP honors in 2016 after his Rookie of the Year 2015 season. Baez was called up in August of '14 and proved to be strikeout-prone but has steadily improved and finished second in NL MVP voting in 2018. Soler ultimately was deemed expendable, dealt for All-Star closer Wade Davis after the Cubs' 2016 championship. Almora has a .280 career average and plays solid defense but has yet to turn into an All-Star-caliber center fielder.

Moncada is having a breakthrough season (.854 OPS in 63 games) after leading the majors with 217 strikeouts in '18, while Jimenez, the former Cubs prospect, has rebounded from an uninspiring start, hitting .400 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in seven games entering Sunday. Some believe Robert, hitting .353 with 12 home runs and a 1.033 OPS in 60 games at Class A and Double A, may be the best of the Sox's core players.

Outlook

Sox: On schedule. With the progression of Giolito, Anderson and Moncada and unexpected performances from catcher James McCann and outfielder Leury Garcia, the Sox have had to temper talk of making midsummer improvements to contend for a wild-card spot. "It's such a long season and there are ups and downs," Renteria said of the wild-card race. "I just want to make sure we continue to focus on what we're capable of doing on this particular day."

Cubs: On schedule. The progression of Arrieta and speculation of trading Samardzija and Hammel for prospects left the impression of a team in transition with no real hope of contending until 2016 or '17. "All these guys, in our eyes, are a part of us," Renteria said in mid-June of trade talk. "I don't look down the road. I can only look at what's happening right now."

Synopsis: Renteria was replaced on the North Side by Joe Maddon with two years left on his deal, a cold-blooded decision Epstein felt was in the best interest of the organization. The Cubs added veterans Jon Lester, Dexter Fowler and Miguel Montero, and the schedule to contend was moved up. The Sox tried to add free agent Manny Machado in the offseason but failed to reel him in. No matter how this season unfolds, Renteria is in no danger of being replaced on the South Side, with 2020 still the target date for contending.

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