Welcome to the World Series that at least one of your aunts or uncles is losing their mind over. This thoroughly Midwestern final should be a good one. No matter how exciting some recent real estate murmurs may be, the winter looks dark and lonely and bereft of baseball. Come, huddle close around these final embers of summer, and let’s hope they burn long and bright.
Thanks to Ned Yost being willing to use Zach Britton in the All-Star Game this year, the AL held onto their 4-2 lead and earned Cleveland home-field advantage in the World Series this year, because sure. Cleveland is the underdog here, make no bones about it, but tonight they will face Jon Lester who, in case you have spent the last several years plugging your ears whenever his name is mentioned, has a bit of trouble throwing to 1st base on occasion. The Dodgers, as have most teams over the past few years, essentially let Lester off the hook in their NLCS Game 5 loss to the Cubs. I mean… look at this.
Lester is a remarkable pitcher with a wonderful story and is admirable in many capacities. I am rooting for the Cubs, ostensibly, but the refusal for teams to capitalize on something so glaringly obvious, whether due to habit, or fear, or principle, is one of my pet peeves in baseball. Much like refusing to bunt or adjust ones approach to a drastic defensive shift, players (and coaches) are allowing themselves to be played by an opponent. Organizations that employ shifts heavily are betting that their opponents are so rooted to their nature that they will act detrimentally to themselves and their team, and Lester has been getting away with a similar gamble for years. Cleveland, who led the AL in BsR and were 3rd in the MLB, and were 4th in the majors in stolen bases with 134, would seem as likely a candidate as any to try and pressure Lester, but even if the desire is there, they’ll still have to get on base first. On the other side, Corey Kluber is coming off the lone loss Cleveland has suffered this postseason, but will be working with more than a regular complement of rest. It’s hard to gauge Cleveland’s strength based on their regular season work, considering they’ve shifted from using an exemplary rotation to lengthening their bullpen dramatically, but it certainly seems like this is one of the few matchups in the series they can look at and feel like the true favorites in.
|CHICAGO CUBS||CLEVELAND INDIANS|
|Dexter Fowler - CF||Rajai Davis - CF|
|Kris Bryant - 3B||Jason Kipnis - 2B|
|Anthony Rizzo - 1B||Francisco Lindor - SS|
|Ben Zobrist - LF||Mike Napoli - 1B|
|Kyle Schwarber - DH||Carlos Santana - DH|
|Javier Baez - 2B||Jose Ramirez - 3B|
|Chris Coghlan - RF||Brandon Guyer - LF|
|Addison Russell - SS||Lonnie Chisenhall - RF|
|David Ross - C||Roberto Perez - C|
|Jon Lester - LHP||Corey Kluber - RHP|
FiveThirtyEight: 52% Cleveland win.