2016 World Series
Cubs in 5
Either way one of baseball’s longest droughts will come to an end as the Chicago Cubs seek their first World Championship in 108 years, while the Cleveland Indians seek to end 68 years of suffering. The Tribe at least how two bites at the apple in 1995 and 1997 losing to the Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins. The Cubs meanwhile are making their first appearance in the Fall Classic since 1945.
As the series begins Tuesday, Cleveland is having a day many people never expected to see. First at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be getting their NBA Championship rings and raising their championship banner, then an hour later the Indians will be starting the World Series across the street at Progressive Field. The hope is that the Tribe can continue to ride the wave created by the Cavs title in June. Ironically as the Cavaliers were rallying from down 3-1 in the NBA Finals, the Indians were making their big run, with a 14-game winning streak that vaulted into a big lead in the American League Central Division.
Pitching has been a key to the Indians success, especially in the postseason as they have stymied the big bats of both the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. Ace Corey Kluber has been solid posting a record of 2-1 with an ERA of 0.98 in three postseason starts. Josh Tomlin has also been strong winning both his previous starts, with an ERA of 2.53. However, it has been Cleveland’s bullpen that has been their biggest strength with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen both being nearly perfect each allowing just five hits in six appearances. Miller who was MVP in the ALCS has one win and a save, while striking out 21 batters in 11.2 innings, while Allen has five saves with 12 Ks in 7.2 innings. If the Cubs are to win the World Series they best have the lead by the sixth inning, because once it becomes Miller Time, the game is already over.
The Cubs meanwhile have the solid and deep starting pitching with Jon Lester, sharing MVP honors with Javier Baez. Lester, has posted a 2-0 record in the first two rounds with an ERA of 0.86 with 14 strikeouts. Kyle Hendricks the ERA champion in the National League is coming off a brilliant two hit performance in the Cubs clincher against the Dodgers and has been solid too posting a 1.65 ERA. While he has been shaky at time, Aroldis Chapman remains one of baseball’s best closers reaching over 100 mph on almost every fastball.
Lineup wise the Cubs have the edge, especially with Anthony Rizzo heating up after a slow start, while NLCS Co-MVP Javier Baez has been the Cubs spark, batting .342 with seven RBI and seven runs scored, while playing outstanding defense as he has seemingly been in the middle of every Cubs rally. The Cubs are also getting an unexpected boost as slugger Kyle Schwarber who suffered a season ending ACL injury is expected to be activated and will likely serve as the Designated Hitter in the games in Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Tribe have relied on Francisco Lindor’s bat. The Indians shortstop has hit .323 with two home runs and four RBI. Other than Lindor the Indians offense has struggled with a .208 team average in the postseason.
Once every few years there comes a team that is so special they are not going to be denied their championship. The one team the 2016 Chicago Cubs remind me most of is the Detroit Tigers. A team that led wire-to-wire. Had solid starting pitching and strong relief a solid lineup and a bunch of players who all had career seasons. The Cubs have the top two ERA pitchers Lester and Hendricks who could finish 1-2 in Cy Young voting in the National League plus last year’s Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta who also had a solid 2016. The Cubs also have the likely MVP in Kris Bryant. The Indians are a nice story and if they can tie up the Cubs hitters like they did with the Red Sox and Blue Jays they can win.