World Series Preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians
The 2016 MLB Postseason has not disappointed yet. These tumultuous and exciting playoffs have seen a fair share of upsets and dominant performances. Now, it comes down to one last matchup, baseball’s Fall Classic: The World Series
Chicago Cubs (NL #1) vs Cleveland Indians (AL #2)
The Chicago Cubs, the top seed in the National League, will take on the Cleveland Indians, the number two seed in the American League. The Indians are seeking their first World Series title in 68 years (1948), while the Cubs have been waiting a whopping 108 years (1908).
The Indians defeated the Boston Red Sox in three games in the ALDS and the Blue Jays in five games in the ALCS. The Cubs defeated the San Francisco Giants in four games in the NLDS and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.
The Cubs have ridden their strong starting pitching and explosive offense through these playoffs. Game one starter Jon Lester has been their ace over the past three weeks, going 2-0, with 14 strikeouts and a 0.86 ERA. Third basemen Javier Baez has been their best hitter, batting .342 with 13 hits and seven RBIs. Lester and Baez were both named co-MVP of the NLCS.
What the Indians lack in offense they make up in dominant pitching, especially out of their bullpen. Cleveland’s pitching staff leads these playoffs in team shutouts with three, team saves with six, and is second in strikeouts with 81. Their bullpen is led by reliever Andrew Miller, who has been nothing short of perfect. In his six appearances and 11.2 innings pitched, he has not allowed a run of any kind, has 21 strikeouts, and has only given up five hits. He has four holds, a 1-0 record, and made the save in game five against the Blue Jays to send the Indians to the Fall Classic. Did I mention he was named ALCS MVP? Their offense has been led by savvy veterans Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, and Coco Crisp.
What to Watch For: These are the two longest championship starved teams in baseball and are desperate to get the monkey off their back. The Cubs on paper should have an advantage offensively against a solid Cleveland starting pitching. If they can rough up the Indians bullpen, the could take total control of the series. Cleveland must find a way to keep the games close against the Chicago ace starting pitchers, even fluster them. If they are down going into the ninth with Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman coming in, the game is almost over.
For one of these two teams, the painstaking wait their organizations have endured will come to an end. Decades of misfortune and misery finally brought to halt.
The American League defeated the National League 4-2 in the All-Star Game so the Indians will have home-field advantage. Game 1 is set for 8:08 Eastern Time, 7:08 Central Time on Tuesday, October 25th from Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland.
Matthew Harvey is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.