John Lackey is no stranger to postseason pressure, in fact, he pitched in this year’s NLCS game four under similar circumstances with the Cubs trailing two games to one in the best of seven series. If you recall, the Cubs went on to win that game thanks to a stellar outing by John. Tonight, Lackey once again will get the chance to cement his postseason legacy as he goes up against a renewed Cleveland Indians team after they won a pitching duel in game 3.
For the Cubs, there’s no need to panic. They just need to come out tonight and get back to what they do best, let the game come to them, don’t try to force anything, show patience at the plate and take advantage of mistakes made by the opposing team. It’s what they’ve been doing all year and it’s what’s gotten them to the World Series.
Speaking of what’s gotten the Cubs to the World Series, Joe Maddon has finally decided to insert Jason Heyward back into the lineup. It’s a move I like because, hey, if the Cubs score a lot of runs they don’t need to worry about whether they get offense from Heyward or not, but if the game is another tight defensive struggle I’d much rather have the best defender on the team out in the field and not on the bench.
The Cubs will have their hands full as they go up against Corey Kluber, who’s been a rock in the postseason for the Indians posting a 0.74 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched. They’ll have to find some way, any way, to break out against him tonight.
Joe is going with the lineup he feels most comfortable with to combat the dominant righty. Javier Baez started the postseason on fire but has cooled down considerably with two hits in his last 16 at-bats. He’s in tonight because of the top-notch defense and fired-up energy he brings to the team. Willson Contreras is also starting behind the plate and catching for Lackey.
Here’s the rest of your Chicago Cubs World Series lineup: