It’s taken 71 years to get there, but the Chicago Cubs are finally back in the World Series as they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games to reach their first Fall Classic since 1945.
Awaiting them in the next round of the postseason are the Cleveland Indians, who beat the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS in a five-game romp. Buoyed by strong pitching from Andrew Miller and big-time hitting from Francisco Lindor, the Indians have only lost one game so far in the postseason, and they’ll be well-rested by the time that they host Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night.
As the teams prepare to battle in the best-of-seven series, experts and statistical analysis seem to be favoring the Cubs to win their first title in 108 years. Five Thirty Eight gives the Cubs a 63 percent chance of winning the championship, while Fangraphs’ projections give the Cubs a 64.5 percent chance of defeating the Indians.
Those projections certainly should give Cubs fans hope, but the road to a title isn’t going to get any easier once they get started in Cleveland. The Indians’ bullpen has been absolutely fantastic this postseason, with Miller pitching in a variety of situations and getting strong backing from Cody Allen. The two pitchers have combined to strike out 33 batters in 19 innings of work, and they’ve walked just five as the team has rolled through series wins over the Red Sox and Blue Jays.
On the other side, the Cubs’ bullpen has raised some question marks during the postseason, as Pedro Strop hasn’t been his normal self and Aroldis Chapman has faltered for the most part when asked to get more than a standard three-out save. There have been some big-time bright spots, including Mike Montgomery and Carl Edwards Jr., but the team is still in need of better production out of their relievers.
One area that the Cubs do hold an advantage in is their frontline starting pitching. Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks have both been incredibly effective during the postseason, as Lester has a 0.86 ERA in three starts during the playoffs and Hendricks is right behind him at 1.65. Hendricks was masterful in Game 6 of the NLCS, giving up zero runs in 7 1/3rd innings of work as the Cubs advanced to the World Series.
The Cubs’ lineup is also coming together at exactly the right time, as Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell seem to have found their groove again after struggling in a big way early in the playoffs. Javier Baez has also emerged as a dynamic threat both with his glove and with his bat, and the Cubs could pose some serious problems for an Indians team that has met little resistance thus far in the playoffs.
The first pitch of the series will be thrown at 7:08 p.m. on Tuesday night, and the entire World Series will air on Fox.