By Matt Ambrose,
Sports Business Writer
The Major League Baseball season has reached its final stage. The Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs are set to square off in the 2016 World Series, beginning Tuesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Cleveland’s run to the Fall Classic has been surprising to say the least. Entering the postseason with a depleted rotation missing Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco caused many to count the Tribe out. They have answered their critics so far this postseason, by sweeping the Boston Red Sox and their high-powered offense before taking down the favored Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS in five games.
Where the Indians have established their dominance is in the back end of their bullpen, which consists of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Miller has been electric this postseason, as he has not allowed a run in 11.2 innings of work while striking out 21 batters. Allen has been lights out closing games for the Tribe, collecting five saves while striking out 12 over 7.2 innings while also not allowing a run.
The offensive charge has been led by their 22-year old shortstop Francisco Lindor, who has compiled a .323 batting average and two home runs in eight games this postseason.
Their opponent, the Cubs, has been the best team in baseball all season long. They won 103 games in the regular season and took down the Giants in four games in the NLDS to end the Giants’ even-year dominance, before defeating the Dodgers in six games to advance to the World Series.
The Cubs are solid all-around. Their rotation has been led by Jon Lester, who has strengthened his postseason resume by posting a 0.86 ERA in three starts this postseason. Kyle Hendricks has translated his regular success into the postseason, as he has a 1.65 ERA this October and pitched 7.1 shutout innings in the Game 6 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night.
The offensive attack has been spearheaded by another young star in the making in, 23-year old Javier Baez. Baez has dazzled with his defense all October long, and has chipped in significantly at the plate with a .342 average and seven RBI’s. First baseman Anthony Rizzo has finally woken up at the plate after starting the postseason 1-for-23. Rizzo has gone 8-for-17 over his last four games with two home runs and now enters the Fall Classic red hot at the plate.
Each of these two teams share something in common, being that they both have long championship droughts. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908, and this will be their first appearance in the Fall Classic since 1945. For the Indians, they have not won a championship since 1948, and the city of Cleveland will be looking for their second professional sports title this year after not seeing any in the previous 52 years.
The starting pitching of the Indians will face a tall task against this red hot Cubs offense. The Indians have done well with shortening games this postseason and getting their dominant bullpen involved early, but it’s will be easier said than done against the best team in baseball.
For the Cubs, they will need to stop the momentum the Indians have gained in October.
The Indians are a sneaky good team, reminiscent of the Kansas City Royals teams of the last several seasons. It will take a full team effort to stop the Indians in this one.
One thing is for sure. One lengthy championship drought will come to an end. This World Series is destined to be a classic.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 25th print edition.
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