World Series: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians took fans by surprise this postseason as they swept the favored Boston Red Sox and made easy work of the equally strong Toronto Blue Jays. Young star Francisco Lindor led the charge with an impressive post- season (batting .323 with 2 homeruns and 4 RBIs). More than that, their pitching staff has been nearly unhittable, especially when Andrew Miller comes into the game. Miller posted a staggering 21 strikeouts in just 11.2 innings pitched, and up until the last game he pitched, he was the only pitcher ever to have a strikeout percentage of over 55 percent in the postseason.
Of the National League (NL) teams, the Chicago Cubs were favored to make the World Series before the season started, at All-Star break and after the regular season ended. While the Cubs made the cut, their success still felt improbable considering the history of bad luck following the team. Many remember 2003 when the Cubs fell to the then Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) and even further back, the infamous “Curse of the Goat” story. Young stars Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, all amazingly under 25 years old, and Anthony Rizzo, not much older at 27, have performed like tried-and-true veterans in the postseason. The pitching staff has also been very impressive, with starters Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks being virtually untouchable this post-season (and all season, really).
Who has the Advantage?
Indians Head Coach Terry Francona spoke to the media about the extra rest given to his players. “Because our game is so much rhythm and timing, the rest is good for their bodies. Also, they need to see some pitching so having five or six days between games does not get in the way of their hitting,” said Francona.
The extra rest can be extremely beneficial for the players, but it can also be harmful as the timing of the hitters’ swings may falter from not seeing any in- game action for a while. For the Indians, the boom or bust offense that surfaced against the Blue Jays with many players hitting well under the mendoza line (.200 batting average) could be a daunting task to overcome. If the offense dwindles in the first game or two, that could make all the difference. The Cubs’ pitching is slightly better and the offense has been clicking on all fronts rather than just a few players doing most of the damage.
Advantage: Chicago Cubs