Because the American League won the All-Star Game, the Indians will have home field advantage in the World Series. This means that they will play Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 in Cleveland. Highly reminiscent of the 2015 Royals who won the Series, the Indians’ success lies in their dominant bullpen and ability to get on base.
Andrew Miller, the reliever acquired by Cleveland from the New York Yankees, was named MVP of the ALCS for his fantastic relief in the middle innings. In 11 innings pitched this postseason, Miller has allowed just five hits and two walks while striking out 21 and not allowing a run. Formerly a closer, Miller ceded that duty to the equally talented Cody Allen when he arrived as an Indian. Allen earned 32 saves during the regular season and already has five in six appearances in the playoffs.
The Indians’ offense is led by journeymen like Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, and Lonnie Chisenhall, as well as youngsters like Francisco Lindor and rookie sensation Tyler Naquin. Perhaps the most talented player on their roster, Michael Brantley, has missed the entire season due to injury and is not expected to return in the World Series.
The Cubs have all the ingredients for a championship. They have powerful bats and a stellar defense, obvious team chemistry, great leadership from coaches and a rabid fan base. They won over 100 games this year, and they've already experienced challenges in the postseason leading up to the Series.
Overcoming the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw wasn’t easy, but it prepared the Cubs for a more difficult series against the Indians. These teams haven’t faced each other at all this season, so the Cubs will encounter some pitchers they haven’t seen before.
Their offense seemed to be in a slump early in the NLCS, but they quickly broke out of it in Game 4 when they scored 10 runs, and remained red hot by putting up eight runs and then five runs in the next two games. Javier Baez and Jon Lester were named the co-MVPs of the NLCS, and they both deserved the award. Lester went 1-0 in two starts against Los Angeles, and has given up just two runs in 21 postseason innings. Baez, who has played second base in the postseason, has 13 hits and seven RBIs in 10 playoff games. More importantly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo finally broke out of his offensive funk by hitting safely in the final four games of the NLCS and swatting two home runs as well. Combine his power with the offense of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Ben Zobrist, and you have the most fearsome lineup in the MLB.
The Indians have their own history to make, especially since the Cavaliers already brought home a championship for Cleveland in June, but the Cubs look like a team destined for a championship. Chicago does have more pressure on them to win the World Series, but I think they’ll stick to the same gameplay and have fun while playing hard. Their veteran presence and the guiding hand of manager Joe Madden will no doubt aid in their quest for a ring. The Indians’ pitching will give the Cubs fits, but Chicago should win their first World Series since 1908 in six games.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip – Series to last six games at 19/10