Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians
Best of seven games
Game 1: Tuesday at Cleveland, 5 p.m.
Chicago: Lester (19-5, 2.44)
Cleveland: Kluber (18-9, 3.14)
Game 2: Wednesday at Cleveland, 5 p.m.
Chicago: Arrieta (18-8, 3.10)
Cleveland: Bauer (12-8, 4.26)
Game 3: Friday at Chicago, 5 p.m.
Cleveland: Tomlin (13-9, 4.40)
Chicago: Hendricks (16-8, 2.13)
Game 4: Saturday at Chicago, 5 p.m.
Chicago: Lackey (11-8, 3.35)
Game 5: Oct. 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m.*
Game 6: Nov. 1 at Cleveland, 5 p.m.*
Game 7: Nov. 2 at Cleveland, 5 p.m.*
Pos. Player, Avg, HR, RBI
CF Dexter Fowler (.276, 13, 48)
3B Kris Bryant (.292, 39, 102)
1B Anthony Rizzo (.292, 32, 109)
LF Ben Zobrist (.272, 18, 76)
SS Addison Russell (.238, 21, 95)
DH Kyle Schwarber (.000, 0, 0)
2B Javier Baez (.273, 14, 59)
RF Jason Heyward (.230, 7, 49)
C David Ross (.229, 10, 32)
Pos. Player, Avg, HR, RBI
CF Rajai Davis, .249, 12, 48
2B Jason Kipnis, .275, 23, 82
SS Francisco Lindor, .301, 15, 78
1B Mike Napoli, .239, 24, 101
DH Carlos Santana, .259, 34, 87
3B Jose Ramirez, .312, 11, 76
LF Brandon Guyer, .266, 9, 32
RF Lonnie Chisenhall, .286, 8, 57
C Roberto Perez, .183, 3, 17
Keys to the series
The Indians were left for dead by their hometown newspaper on Sept. 17, after injuries to starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.
"Their postseason dreams ended," the Plain Dealer opined. "The Indians were eliminated from serious postseason advancement before they even got there."
The Indians went 7-1 in advancing to the World Series, with ace Corey Kluber, multiple-inning relief wizard Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen recording the majority of the outs in both the ALDS and ALCS. Salazar is back for the World Series, either in long relief or as a Game 4 starter.
But the Cubs could get someone back for the World Series too: Kyle Schwarber, who hit 16 home runs in 69 games as a rookie last year but missed all but two games this year after knee surgery. He'd fit perfectly as the DH for the games in Cleveland.
The Indians hit .186 in the ALCS, and maybe one of the Toronto starters could have cracked the Cubs' playoff-tested rotation of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. The Indians can run well enough to take advantage of Lester's weakness at holding runners on base, but it's doubtful they can hit well enough, particularly after five consecutive days off and 10 of the past 15.
And it's doubtful their starters beyond Kluber can hold off MVP-in-waiting Kris Bryant (.333 postseason) and Anthony Rizzo (1.010 OPS in NLCS, no elite lefty starters to befuddle him in World Series) long enough to plan on handing a lead to Miller and Allen. Believeland is great, believing in superior talent is better.