2016 World Series Preview: Will the Cubs or Indians End Their Curse?
Two of baseball’s longest suffering franchises — and fanbases — meet in the 2016 World Series, which starts tonight in Cleveland. Here’s a preview of the Fall Classic:
Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs
We are far down the rabbit hole, aren’t we folks? Either the Indians or the Cubs will win the World Series. Wow. And, both have architects of the Red Sox curse-busting era to thank: Cleveland manager Terry Francona; Chicago President Theo Epstein. Here’s all you need to know heading into the 2016 Fall Classic:
How They Got Here:
The Cleveland Indians won the American League Central title with consistent starting pitching from Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, timely hitting from shortstop Francisco Lindor, third baseman Jose Ramirez and sluggers Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli, and a mid-season overhaul of their bullpen, including the acquisition of ALCS MVP Andrew Miller. The Tribe’s bullpen has made them a postseason juggernaut and allowed them to overcome late season injuries to Carrasco and Salazar. The Indians swept the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS and conquered the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS, 4-1.
The Chicago Cubs won the National League Central title and soared to the best record in baseball (103-58) thanks to stellar pitching from starters Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta and slugging from first baseman Anthony Rizzo, second baseman Javier Baez and third baseman Kris Bryant. A mid-season trade for flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman solidified their inconsistent bullpen. The Cubs edged the San Francisco Giants, 3-1, in a very competitive NLDS, and slugged their way past the L.A. Dodgers, 4-2, in the NLCS.
Season Series: The teams did not play in the regular season. They have never met in the postseason.
Postseason History: The Indians are making their sixth World Series appearance and first since 1997. Cleveland hasn’t won a world title since 1948. The Cubs are making their 11th World Series appearance and first since 1945. They last won a world championship in 1908. That’s 108 years ago — when there were 48 states…
Why the Indians May Win: Show the Speed & Hold the Lead: Indians hitters like Lindor, Ramirez, second baseman Jason Kipnis and outfielder Rajai Davis not only take pitches, hit and get on base, but they can harass starters like Lester and Arrieta with their speed. Napoli loves to crush mistakes made by distracted pitchers. If Cleveland has a lead after 15 outs, odds are they’ll keep it thanks to the bullpen of Miller, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, and Salazar, who will return from injury.
Why the Cubs May Win: The Arms & the Power: Outside of Kluber, the Indians do not have the starting pitching depth of the Cubs. If they can’t scratch out an early lead, they could find themselves unable to use their lockdown ’pen. Lester, Arrieta and Hendricks are all a threat to throw seven-plus shutout innings. Bryant, Rizzo and Baez are only part of the big Chicago sticks. Slugging outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who tore a knee ligament in April, will serve as DH, meaning more potential longballs against middling starters like Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and TBD (which is never a comforting option in October).
2016 World Series Schedule & TV Times:
Game 1: Tuesday, Oct. 25 | at Cleveland; 8:08 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Probables: Jon Lester vs Corey Kluber
Game 2: Wednesday, Oct. 26 | at Cleveland; 8:08 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Probables: Jake Arrieta vs Trevor Bauer
Game 3: Friday, Oct. 28 | at Chicago; 8:08 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Probables: Josh Tomlin vs Kyle Hendricks
Game 4: Saturday, Oct. 29 | at Chicago; 8:08 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Probables: TBD vs John Lackey
*Game 5: Sunday, Oct. 30 | at Chicago; 8:15 p.m. (ET) on FOX
*Game 6: Tuesday, Nov. 1 | at Cleveland; 8:08 p.m. (ET) on FOX
*Game 7: Wednesday, Nov. 2 | at Cleveland; 8:08 p.m. (ET) on FOX
* if necessary