Over the past century, the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs have been widely regarded as two of the worst franchises in baseball. The last World Series that the Cubs won was back in 1908, when the Ottoman Empire was still around. The last time the Indians won the World Series, Israel was just becoming a nation. Now, they’re squaring off in the World Series to see who will end their championship drought.
Both teams have star-studded lineups, which is why this is such a closely contested series. From a pitching standpoint, the Cubs have a much better rotation.
Between World Series-veteran Jon Lester, NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks who owns the lowest ERA in the MLB, the Cubs are poised to keep runs off the board. Even John Lackey, who’s number four in the pitching rotation, managed 11 wins and had a relatively low ERA, showing that this pitching staff has few weak spots. Having Aroldis Chapman as a closer has carried the Cubs through the postseason because Chapman’s 100+ mph fastball is virtually unhittable. The Indians’ rotation might not have as many big arms, but Corey Kluber is doing more than enough to carry the team. Kluber won the 2014 AL Cy Young and won games one and four against the Cubs this series.
Sadly, the Indians lost Carlos Carrasco, who was one of Cleveland’s top pitchers, to a broken hand in late September. Luckily, Cleveland’s bullpen has stepped up tremendously. Andrew Miller set the record for most strikeouts in a postseason with 29 and has only allowed one run, last Saturday against the Cubs. Having a set-up man like Miller makes closer Cody Allen’s job significantly easier. Allen has been sharp all season and continues to impress, having not blown a save all postseason.
At the plate, the Cubs have the advantage but it looks like the bats have gone cold this series. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant have been two of the best hitters in the league this year, but they have not been producing enough runs this series, which is part of the reason why the Cubs are trailing. Bryant has only hit one homerun this series whereas Rizzo has zero, obviously putting pressure on the rest of the lineup to produce runs. Indians catcher Roberto Perez had two homeruns in the first game of the series, putting Rizzo and Bryant’s stats to shame. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor has been consistently good throughout the postseason and has continued excelling through this series as he’s hitting .421. The Indians have been getting production from their whole lineup and, should this continue, their shot at winning the title increases greatly.
As I write this article, the Indians are winning the series 3-2 and look to close out the series tonight. However, one thing that has been on my mind is how both of these franchises have a history of either blowing leads or losing in the saddest ways possible. The Indians could very well blow a 3-1 lead, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cubs come all the way back and somehow lose. Regardless of the outcome, one club will end its World Series drought and bring the trophy home. Three years ago, if you were to ask who would make the World Series in 2016, few people would have guessed that the Cubs and Indians would have made it this far. Three years in the future, don’t be surprised if you see the Padres and Astros fighting for the title. The series will be decided this week.