While my previous attempts at similarly titled breakdowns were decidedly dirty, neither was very quick. As such, I’m going to stick to some bullet points in an attempt to harness my proclivity for chasing rabbit trails and fleshing out my thoughts in such a way as to eliminate the brevity of wit. Oh man, I’m already starting to do it here. Let’s get to it then, shall we:
- Cubs team OPS of .772, Indians .759
- Major League is a standard-bearer among sports movies, Rookie of the Year features the phrase “funky butt-lovin'”
- Cubs led MLB with 10.4% walk rate, Indians t-8th with 8.6%
- Indians have a racist logo, Cubs have Aroldis Chapman
- WAR BEAR!!!!!
- Indians slash .259/.329/.434 vs. RHP, Cubs are .252/.338/.421
- Cubs have Lake Michigan, Indians have Lake Erie
- Indians slash .268/.330/.419 vs. LHP, Cubs are .267/.357/.449
- Indians have 3 RHP (Kluber, Bauer, Tomlin) announced to start
- Danny Salazar (also RHP) has been added to roster and could factor as middle relief or 4th SP
- Cubs accumulated 82 defensive runs saved, Indians had 17 (2nd place had 51)
- Shortstops, yo: Francisco Lindor 2nd in AL DRS (17), Addison Russell led MLB (19)
- In 383 innings at 2B, Javy Baez had 11 DRS; Jason Kipnis had 4 in 1,309.1
- Kipnis may not play Game 1 after injuring ankle in ALCS celebration
- Trevor Bauer expected to get Game 3 start after healing from drone strike
- WAR BEAR!!!!!
- Indians have allowed a 1.77 ERA and .207 BAA in 71 postseason IP
- Cubs have allowed a .293 ERA and .228 BAA in 92 IP
- Andrew Miller is a freak show
- Javy Baez is a freak show
- Both teams have had their hopes crushed by the Marlins in their WS title seasons
- The last time I saw the Cubs play in Cleveland, Kyle Schwarber had just been called up to DH
- Indians were 53-28 at home, 41-39 on the road
- Cubs were 57-24 at home, 46-34-1 on the road
After putting all that down, I realized that it doesn’t necessarily provide much of a preview. Then again, you’re smart enough to figure a lot of this out on your own. If you’d like to get a smartypants perspective on the upcoming, Baseball Prospectus EIC Aaron Gleeman has what you’re looking for. If, however, you’d like more of a dummydrawers approach, please proceed to the highlighted route.
The Indians offer a stark contrast to the trio of southpaws the Dodgers dialed up, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs adjust and attack. Chief among their strategic moves is the expected activation of Kyle Schwarber (I know, right?!), who has hit pretty well in his home state in the past. Pitching has really carried Cleveland to this point, even more so than it has the Cubs. Timely hitting has obviously played a roll as well, but Terry Francona’s willingness to use the dominant Andrew Miller at pretty much any juncture has been incredible valuable. Both teams are solid all around, though the Cubs should have the edge in terms of depth.
Another possible angle to pay attention to is rest and the fact that the Indians have not been quite as strenuously tested as have the Cubs. That’s not to say Cleveland just ran roughshod over opponents in each game, but they’ve only lost once and that was when they were already up 3-0 in the series. After fighting back to close out the Giants and then coming from a 2-1 deficit and beating the best pitcher on the planet to advance to the World Series, the Cubs are perhaps a little more battle tested.
On the national narrative front, you’ve got the minds behind two of the World Series titles in Boston facing each other in this tilt. Whether it’s Tito or Epstoyer, someone’s walking out of this with a strap in two title-starved towns and will be even more legendary as a result. Considering all the other storylines we’ll be faced with over the coming days, that’s actually not a bad one to chew on.
There’s also the idea that each team’s most dominant reliever came over in a trade with the Yankees and that the Cubs could have had Miller had they been willing to part with Schwarber. Whoa (to be read in extreme Keanu Reeves voice; Joey Lawrence is an acceptable option, though this “whoa” is more mind-blown than goofy). Wait, what if War Bear homers off of Miller? Would Brian Cashman cry, do you think?
My prediction is Cubs in 5, though it’ll be far from an easy series for them.
Both teams have plenty of confidence and momentum, though the limited rest may help the Cubs when it comes to routine and whatnot. And I’ve been saying since the All-Star game that I think the 2-3-2 series format is actually pretty not bad for the Cubs. If I’m being honest with you here, dear reader, I’m having a really hard time stringing together cogent thoughts at this point. The Cubs being in the World Series has got me all kinds of loopy and it’s become quite obvious from the events of the last few days that I’d make a lousy journalist.
Fresh content will be at a premium over the next couple days, but check my Twitter feed for photos and thoughts live from Game 1 in Cleveland. And maybe check the left field home run porch for an idiot in a bright yellow shirt.