Tuesday night the World Series begins with two franchises that are both starving for a World Series Title. From the AL you have the Cleveland Indians who got red hot in the second half of the season and haven’t cooled down. From the NL you have the Chicago Cubs. We all know about the Cubs. Haven’t won a title in 108 years. The team is full of fun, exciting young players. Feels like it might be destiny, no?
Entering today, the Cubs are the heavy favorite, according to Vegas with their odds of winning set at -175. I think that’s a bit large but what the hell do I know? Anyways I’m going to break down the matchups from top to bottom. Rotation, bullpen, lineups, managers and intangibles – that’s five categories. Whoever has the most points after the five categories will win the World Series. It’s that simple. So let’s do it.
- Jon Lester
- Jake Arrieta
- Kyle Hendricks
- John Lackey
- Corey Kluber
- Josh Tomlin
- Ryan Merritt?
- Danny Salazar?
- Trevor Bauer?
The fact that there’s even question marks gives the point to the Cubs. Kluber has been outstanding this post-season, and it’s not that the rest of the cast hasn’t been good as well, but they have certainly had a lot of help from their bullpen. After Tomlin, it’s unclear who’s next. If Bauer’s finger doesn’t gush with blood like a goddamn faucet, you would assume it would be him. Danny Salazar is also an option to get some innings for the Tribe as he threw three innings of a simulated game the other day and felt “good.” In all reality, three innings might be all he needs to throw with the Indians bullpen.
The Cubs on the other hand have four very solid pitchers. Lester is a proven winner in October and him pitching game one means you could potentially see him three times in the series. Arrieta hasn’t been the shutdown guy we are all used to, but he’s been passable. Hendricks pitched great in Game 6 of the CS and then when you have John Lackey, another proven gamer in October out there, you have to be feeling pretty good about yourself.
And this is where the Indians make up for their possible instability in the starting rotation. Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen have been, amazing to put it bluntly. The Indians have the ability to turn a game into five innings which is crazy. You hear from time to time that a team can make a game a seven inning game, but Francona knows his bullpen is hot and he is not afraid to go to them early and often. It’s not that the Cubs bullpen isn’t doing well also, but the Indians bullpen is pitching on historical levels.
- Fowler – 8
- Bryant – 5
- Rizzo – 3
- Zobrist – 7
- Schwarber – DH
- Baez – 4
- Contreras – 2
- Heyward – 9
- Russell – 6
*David Ross will be in the lineup for game one as he always catches Lester.
- Santana – 3
- Kipnis -4
- Lindor – 6
- Napoli – DH
- Ramirez – 5
- Chisenhall – 9
- Crisp – 7
- Naquin – 8
- Perez -2
Now it’s official that Kyle Schwarber will be the designated hitter for the World Series, and presumably would be a pinch hitter in games 3-5. The Cubs lineup was already stacked. Sure their bats were a little cold at the beginning of the NLCS, but they have broken out in a big way. Rizzo is locked in. Russell is swinging a hot stick. Fowler is looking good at the top of the lineup. Bryant has been consistent and obviously Javy has been their best hitter all post-season. Now add Schwarber to that lineup (I’m assuming he’d hit 5th, but I’m not totally sure)? Forget about it. Some people are saying that this is too much to ask of Schwarber, who hasn’t seen a big league pitch since April. I see that point, but I disagree. Schwarber is a younger Matt Stairs. He has one speed: Mash. He’s just a hitting machine that swings as hard as he can so if anyone can come in to hit 700 foot bombs after not seeing a major league pitcher for six months, it’s Matt Stairs.
And if there’s anyone else that can do it, it’s Kyle Schwarber.
The Indians, despite torching the Red Sox, were relatively quiet with the bats last series. Lindor has been their best hitter and Napoli came to life a bit in game five so we’ll see if that carries over, but their lineup needs to be at the top of their game if they’re looking to outslug the Cubs. The guy that I think needs to get going to get the rest of the lineup going is Jason Kipnis. He hit great in the ALDS, but didn’t do much last series. I feel like if he comes out in the first and rips a double in the gap, the rest of the lineup will build off of that.
Joe Maddon – I have made my stance clear on Maddon in the past. I hated the guy. Now? I don’t mind him (probably because he’s not the manager of the Rays, but whatever), but I do think he can get too cute out there sometimes. He’ll steal when it’s not necessarily a steal situation or leave a guy in despite what the books say and I’ll admit, sometimes I like playing with your gut and not going totally by what the stats say, but in the World Series, you better be pretty fucking sure that what you’re doing is the right move.
Terry Francona – Contrary to my thoughts on Maddon, I love and will always love Francona. So am I going to be biased in this category? Absolutely. But you cannot deny that Francona has been managing the shit out of the Indians this post-season. His use of the bullpen has been spot on. He knows that’s his team’s strengths and where other managers may be a bit tentative to let a key reliever stretch it out a bit, Tito is not afraid to pull the trigger. On top of all that, he’s won it all twice.
So with the intangibles, I’ll break it down into some mini-categories and you know what? We might even have a little fun here.
Defense: Both defenses are pretty solid. I’ll give the edge to the Cubs though because I think their outfield is a bit stronger (though Zobrist has looked shaky at times in the outfield) and Rizzo is a better defender than both Napoli and Santana.
Baserunning: Call me old fashion, but I love good, aggressive baserunning. Both teams have great instincts on the bases and both teams are pretty aggressive. It’s nearly a wash in this subcategory, but Mike Napoli is sneaky an unreal baserunner. Look for him to get to second on a ball in the dirt. He’s got great instincts and might be a difference maker. I’ll give a slight edge to Cleveland, just because of Napoli.
Stadium: I’ve heard nice things about Jacob’s Field (I know it’s called Progressive Field, but Progressive quoted my home and auto insurance way too high so fuck Progressive), but come on, Wrigley Field? Second best MLB stadium in the country (next to Fenway, of course). Cubs win this one.
Droughts: Everyone knows the Cubs haven’t won in 108 years, but people forget that the Indians haven’t won it all in 68 years. Obviously it would be a bigger story if the Cubs win though.
Uniforms/Mascot: Neither uniform is too bad nor too special. I guess I like the simplicity and tradition of the Cubs uniforms a bit more. Now let’s talk about the mascots. With the Cubs, you got the pre-teen bear Clark.
Kind of creepy. Whatever. Clark doesn’t do it for me. The Indians mascot though, while they say it’s some big, pink Barney looking mother fucker named slider,
we all know it’s actually Chief Wahoo, the blatantly racist, red faced Indian with the big nose and conniving grin.
Chief Wahoo has always been one of my favorite mascots because he is so obviously racist in this time, yet nobody ever really says anything about it. I’m sure people will be talking about it more, but for now, I have to give this subcategory to the Indians for having the balls to have such a hilariously ignorant mascot.
Intangibles Advantage: Overall, got to give it to the Cubs
So if you count up the score, that’s 3-2 in favor of the Cubs. That’s pretty indicative of what I think will happen too. I know the Cubs seem like the Team of Destiny and people are comparing them to the ‘04 Red Sox, but this just has a different feel. When the Red Sox beat the Yankees in ‘04, you knew they were going to win the World Series. The Cardinals, while a very good team and did have a 22 year World Series drought simply seemed to have no chance. It felt like the Red Sox would have swept anybody in the 2004 World Series. Boston was desperate for a title and St. Louis wasn’t quite at the same level.
This year, both teams are desperate. Both teams have had glimmers where they both look like a team of destiny. It has been the Cubs year since April, but man the Indians have been playing really well. I think we could be in for a fantastic Series. When two teams of destiny collide, the results can be historic and I really think that this one could go down as one of the best of all time. The prediction I will make is 75% what I think and 25% what I want to see, and that prediction is: Cubs in 7.