The Cubs are four wins away from winning the World Series for the first time since 1908. The opening-day favorites took three of five from the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series and bested Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. By using a dominant rotation and a recently hot lineup, the Cubs are on the brink of sending Chicago into a frenzy.
Curse of the Billy Goat? The Indians have their own World Series drought to end when Game 1 of the World Series begins Tuesday in Cleveland. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948, three years after the Cubs' last appearance in the Fall Classic.
Despite injuries to Michael Brantley, starters Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer, Cleveland kept winning all season against everyone's expectations. With a dominant bullpen (1.67 ERA in 32 1/3 innings this postseason), clutch hitting and superb defense, the Indians are a formidable opponent for the favorite Cubs.
World Series 2016 TV scheduleGame 1: Cubs at Indians, Tuesday 8 p.m. ET on Fox — *Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) vs. Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14 ERA)
Game 2: Cubs at Indians, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox — *Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA) vs. *Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA)
Game 3: Indians at Cubs, Friday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox — *Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA) vs. *Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA)
Game 4: Indians at Cubs, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox — *Ryan Merritt (1-0, 1.17 ERA in 15 1/3 career innings) vs. *John Lackey (11-8, 3.35 ERA)
Game 5 (if necessary): Indians at Cubs, Sunday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox
Game 6 (if necessary): Cubs at Indians, Tuesday Nov. 1, 8 p.m. ET on Fox
Game 7 (if necessary): Cubs at Indians, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 8 p.m. ET on Fox
Players to watchCubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the owner of an MLB-best 2.13 ERA, and Jon Lester combined to notch baseball’s top two ERAs, becoming the first teammate pair to do so since Roger Clemens (1.87) and Andy Pettitte (2.39) did with the 2005 Astros. The Cubs duo has been stellar this postseason, combining for 1.21 ERA.
The Cubs are 47-13 (.783) this season (including postseason) when Dexter Fowler reaches base safely to leadoff a game. After beginning the postseason 1 for 23, Anthony Rizzo is 8 for his last 15 (.533) with six RBIs. NLCS co-MVP Javy Baez leads the Cubs in runs scored (7), hits (13) RBIs (7) and stolen bases (2) this postseason.
The Indians are now 5-0 this postseason and 11-0 this year when relievers Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen all appear in a game. The star of the trio of course is Miller, who got eight Jays outs in relief on just 21 pitches in the ALCS clinching win. The series MVP now has 21 strikeouts in 11 2/3 postseason innings this year with just five hits allowed and zero runs.
Corey Kluber will likely take the ball in Game 1 for the Indians, who hold home-field advantage in the series thanks to an AL All-Star Game victory (in which Kluber was credited with the win). The right-hander saw a personal 15 1/3-inning postseason scoreless streak come to an end following a homer by Josh Donaldson in Game 4 but looks to start another against a Cubs team he held to one run over 7 2/3 innings with four hits and 11 strikeouts in 2015.
Key statsThe Cubs won a MLB-best 103 games in the regular season. Of the last 27 teams with at least 100 wins in the regular season, only two went on to win the World Series (Yankees in 1998, 2009).
The Cubs have scored five or more runs in seven of their 10 postseason contests this year but also suffered back-to-back shutout losses against the Dodgers.
Chances are the World Series won't end in a Cubs sweep since the Indians never lost more than three consecutive games all year. The two clubs last faced each other in 2015, splitting the four-game series although the Cubs outscored the Indians 22-11.
The Indians' pitching staff has held opponents to a .206 batting average this postseason and only .130 with runners in scoring position.
The sixth inning is telling for the Indians. Including the postseason, Cleveland is 76-5 when leading after the sixth inning but are 9-55 when trailing after six.