My League Championship predictions were lackluster to say the least and although I still managed to go 1/2, I now am 8/16 and my World Series prediction will be the deciding tally mark on whether I finish my MLB Postseason predictions above or below 0.500. The last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series was 1948 but the last time the Chicago Cubs even made it to a World Series was 1945. Since the last time the Cubbies found themselves on top of baseball’s biggest stage in 1908, they’ve suffered through the Curse of the Billy Goat. In that timespan there have been two World Wars, and there also was British Beatlemania, Ole Miss, John Glenn, and Liston beats Patterson. So one last time for the 2016 MLB season, let’s get to the preview.
Chicago Cubs vs Cleveland Indians
I’m not sure which team is on a bigger roll right now, the Indians have only lost one game so far this postseason and have seemingly steamrolled over any opponent in their way. The Indians are playing and winning games like people expected the Cubs to this October. I’m not saying the Cubs have played poorly, because they haven’t… especially as of recent but the hype train on Chicago is so big, even a World Series sweep wouldn’t reach their expectations. The media has more or less crowned this team as World Series Champions since early August but they still have four more games to win.
The Indians have been relying on Francisco Lindor and Andrew Miller, both of whom I expect not to slow down in the slightest for the World Series. The Cubs have been leaning on Jon Lester and truly a different offensive name every game it seems.
In terms of offensive, between the two teams the Cubs have the clear advantage with NL MVP candidates Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Mainly Bryant and Rizzo are the guys that have carried them all year long and if they want their special seasons to mean anything they’ll need to lead the charge against the Tribe, because ‘it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that ring’. For the Indians, be on the look out for their top of the lineup hitters because they are speedy and can turn a few bloop singles into runs on the scoreboard very quickly. I expect Carlos Santana to play a key role as the leadoff hitter for the Indians but the guys behind him like Jason Kipnis, Lindor and Mike Napoli should have no problem complementing each other even against the pitching staff of Chicago. The key for the Indians offense is to take pitches and rack up quality at-bats in order to chase the Cubs starters sooner rather than later. Don’t let Aroldis Chapman fool you, the Cubs bullpen isn’t made for October the way that other successful World Series teams have been (2015 Kansas City Royals). If the Tribe gets Joe Maddon to pull the starter before the 6th or 7th, they’ve done their job.
The pitching advantage was EXTREMELY close but I’m going to go with the Indians. Corey Kluber has been untouchable, Josh Tomlin has been pitching deep into games and Danny Salazar is coming back, not to mention the lights out bullpen led by Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. If the Indians have a lead going into the 6th inning, the game is over because Miller and Allen are MORE than capable of shutting down the Cubs for four innings, although that is much easier said than done. The Cubbies though have a fantastic rotation led by Cy Young candidates Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta. For Chicago, I believe that their non-Cleveland caliber bullpen depth will be their tragic flaw. Chapman is great don’t get me wrong but he doesn’t have Andrew Miller’s stamina or Miller’s slider for that matter.
This World Series matchup is headlined by managers Joe Maddon and Terry ‘Tito’ Francona, both decorated and praised by media around the nation. Although, if I had to chose one, I’d chose Francona and it wouldn’t even be close. Bottomline, Tito has been there and won, Maddon has not. Francona won’t lose you games but I think Maddon might crack a little bit under the pressure and lose at least one game due to a questionable managerial decision. Maddon’s job definitely won’t be easy, this Cubs team has had the World Series in their sights since Spring Training and anything outside of a 2016 World Series Ring will be considered a disappointment. But don’t fret if you don’t come out on top Cubs fans, your team is still insanely young… Kris Bryant is 24, Addison Russell is 22 and Javy Baez is 23. And the scariest part is that their best years might still be ahead of them if they can keep some key pieces together. Theo Epstein, the Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations was actually the General Manager of the Red Sox when Boston hired Francona in 2004 and together they won a World Series title of their own breaking ‘The Curse of the Bambino’. Theo is 1/2 on breaking Fall Classic Curses for the team he is working for and he’s hoping after the next couple weeks, he’ll be 2/2.
Cleveland Indians X-Factors: Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar
Chicago Cubs X-Factors: Kris Bryant and Aroldis Chapman
Prediction: Indians over Cubs (4-2)
What did you think of my prediction? Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter @N2KSports or on Facebook at N2K Sports. Be sure to check out my past previews on the Wild Card, the ALDS, the NLDS, the ALCS and the NLCS.
Cover Photo via NEO Sports Insiders