After an up-and-down start to the season, the Cubs (20-15) have erupted at the plate this week with 42 runs in their past four games. They would match their high-water mark at six games above .500 with one more win.
Yet nobody on the Cubs wants to feel too comfortable going up against the White Sox (9-26).
"There is no underestimating these guys," Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber said to The Athletic. "I feel like they're a good ballclub and we got to go out there and play our game."
The White Sox are trying to follow the Cubs' approach by rebuilding through the farm system and building a sustainable winner at the big league level. However, this season has shown that the team's young core is not prepared to make a run at a postseason berth quite yet.
The White Sox have lost six games in a row and 10 of 11. They own the worst record in baseball after 35 games.
"We are not just sitting here (thinking), 'Oh, well. Next year is going to be better,' " White Sox slugger Matt Davidson told the team's official website. "I think that's the worst mindset we can have. We are trying. We are not enjoying it, either. We want to go out and win just as bad. Hopefully, everything turns and we get the ball rolling."
The Cubs have hit such a stride. Catcher Willson Contreras has helped to spark the team's recent success with seven extra-base hits in his past two games. He clubbed a grand slam and drove in a career-high seven RBIs during Friday's 11-2 win over the White Sox.
Kris Bryant also will look to stay hot after homering in the series opener. He is hitting .302 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 31 games.
White Sox right-hander James Shields (1-3, 5.14 ERA) will try to cool off the Cubs' bats when he takes the mound for his eighth start of the season. The 36-year-old is enjoying a productive stretch with back-to-back quality starts against the St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last outing.
In five career starts against the Cubs, Shields is 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA. This will mark his second career start at Wrigley Field and his first since 2015, when he allowed three runs in six innings for the San Diego Padres.
The Cubs will counter with left-hander Jon Lester (2-1, 2.82 ERA) for his eighth start. The 34-year-old has not allowed an earned run in three of his first seven games. During his last time out, he gave up two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Cardinals.
Lester is 7-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 15 career starts against the White Sox. He posted a victory in his only meeting against the White Sox last season, when he allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings.
The Cubs are 12-6 at home this season. The White Sox are 6-11 on the road.