#903 Cleveland Indiansvs.#904 Chicago Cubs
Written by Chris Kubala
MLB: Saturday, October 29, 2016, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois, 8 pm ET
Lines: Chicago -105, Cleveland -105; Over/Under: N/A
It’s Game 4 of the World Series and depending how things go when this one is all said and done, one team could be a win away from a long awaited title or we could be all square. The Cleveland Indians play the second of three games of the series at historic Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs Saturday night. After Cleveland took the opener 6-0 at home in Game 1, the Cubs squared the series with a 5-1 victory in Game 2 Wednesday night. The Game 3 matchup saw Josh Tomlin pitch for the Indians against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs.
Cleveland announced that they will be going with a three man rotation in the World Series. One has to wonder if that’s still Terry Francona’s thought process after Game 2. The Indians had just four hits in the Game 2 loss with none coming until Jason Kipnis’s (run) double in the sixth, by which point Cleveland was in a 5-0 hole. Mike Napoli had two hits while pinch hitter Brandon Guyer had the other hit for the Indians. The Indians’ run wasn’t driven in by anyone as Kipnis scored on a wild pitch. Trevor Bauer lasted just 3.2 innings in taking the loss. He allowed two runs on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts while throwing 87 pitches. That put a lot of stress on the bullpen
Corey Kluber takes the mound for the Indians for his 5th postseason start after 32 regular season outings. He went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.056 WHIP with 227 strikeouts in 215 innings of work. In the playoffs, Kluber is 3-1 with a 0.74 ERA and a 0.986 WHIP over 24.1 innings with 29 strikeouts. He picked up the win in his last start, which came in Game 1 of the World Series. He threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. Cleveland won the game 6-0. Of course, Kluber is also pitching on three days’ rest. When he did that in Game 4 of the ALCS, he was beaten by Toronto. He allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over five innings in that one. Kluber took a no-decision in his lone start at Wrigley Field, which came in 2015. He allowed a run on four hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts over seven innings.
Chicago, after being flummoxed in the opener, came back with a vengeance in Game 2, battering the Indians and squaring the set. The Cubs couldn’t solve Kluber, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen in Game 1 but had little problem with the Indians in Game 2. Chicago finished with nine hits and drew eight walks and they ground at-bats the way we’ve seen all season long. Ben Zobrist (run, RBI) and Kyle Schwarber (run, two RBI) each had two hits for Chicago. Schwarber became the first player in World Series history to drive in a run in the World Series after having zero RBI in the regular season. Anthony Rizzo (two runs) and Addison Russell drove in the other runs for Chicago. Jake Arrieta evened his postseason record at 1-1 with the win. He threw 5.2 innings, allowing one run on two hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Mike Montgomery threw two scoreless innings, fanning four before Aroldis Chapman got the last four outs.
John Lackey gets the call for Chicago for his third postseason start after 29 regular season outings. He went 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.057 WHIP with 180 strikeouts over 188.1 innings in the regular season. He was 4-1 in his last nine regular season starts dating back to late July. Lackey has no record with a 5.63 ERA and a 1.875 WHIP over eight innings in the postseason. He took a no-decision in his last postseason start, which was Game 4 of the NLCS against the Dodgers. He allowed two runs on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts plus a hit batter over four innings. The Cubs won the game, 10-2. Lackey makes his 21st career start against the Indians. He is 8-9 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.399 WHIP over 128.2 innings of work. This is his 19th career start at Wrigley Field. Lackey is 8-5 with a 2.47 ERA and a 1.011 WHIP over 123.2 innings.
This one is arguably a tossup. The Indians have their ace going in this contest as Kluber stifled the Cubs in the opener. He had issues pitching on three days rest in the ALCS and that could come back to haunt him here. Lackey has scuffled in the postseason but Joe Maddon knows he has a capable set of arms to work with in the bullpen should he need to. Francona has to adjust to not having a DH, which could impact Cleveland in the field and with their pitchers. Can he afford to have Kluber bat with runners on in a close game? Those questions are just enough to tilt the scale in favor of Chicago but it’s a coin flip.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.