Author Archive

World Series 2016: Biggest Offseason Questions for Cubs and Indians

An epic 2016 World Series ended with one of the most memorable games in recent baseball history. The Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year championship drought with an 8-7, 10-inning win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7.

While the elation is through the roof in Chicago, the disappointment is deep in Cleveland. Both teams, however, have plenty to address this offseason to ensure they make it back to the Fall Classic. Each club is facing important departures and obstacles that could affect the chances of a rematch in 2017.

Let us take a look at two major questions facing the Cubs and Indians, respectively, as they head into a significant offseason.


Can Chicago Re-Sign or Replace Pending Free Agents?

The Cubs went wire-to-wire as the best team in baseball, thanks to a loaded lineup and deep pitching staff that resulted in the seventh-highest payroll in the sport. Yet, the club may be forced to part with several key pieces of its championship squad.

Chicago has four significant players who could become free agents this winter in Aroldis Chapman, Chris Coghlan, Dexter Fowler and Jason Hammel. How the team handles these situations could have a tremendous impact on next season.

Fowler signed a one-year deal worth $9 million last offseason with an option to initiate a $5 million buyout to decline the second year, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. The 30-year-old could decide to opt out after he posted a .276 average with 13 homers and 48 RBI this season,. Those were his best numbers since 2012. Fowler was also a hero in Game 7, going 3-for-5 with an RBI, thanks to a historic swing, per Bleacher Report:

Perhaps more important to Chicago’s postseason run was Chapman, a trade-deadline acquisition who solidified the team’s pitching staff. Since Chapman’s arrival from the Yankees, the Cubs converted 16 of his 18 save attempts with a 1.55 ERA in the regular season. He also became the only bullpen member manager Joe Maddon trusted near the end of the World Series. Chapman pitched 5.1 innings with 97 pitches thrown in the last three games.

Coghlan and Hammel are less significant, as the former served as a reserve outfielder this season while Hammel won 15 games before failing to make the postseason roster. Given the value of starting pitching in MLB, it is hard to imagine Chicago making any legitimate effort to keep Hammel signed, as he could command some solid money.

The same could go for Fowler, as he could be in for a payday after his strong playoff finish. His .276 average was the second-highest of his career. As such, Chicago could be better suited to keep Coghlan in the outfield rotation. The Cubs then could promote a younger guy such as Javier Baez or Addison Russell to replace Fowler at the top of the order.  

This would end up saving the Cubs a long-term deal that could top $10 million a year for Fowler.

Lastly, Chicago should try to retain Chapman, but it has to be smart. The 28-year-old could command one of the biggest contracts ever for a reliever. Meanwhile, the Cubs have young players such as Baez, Kris Bryant, Russell and Kyle Schwarber who will eventually require hefty new deals.

For the right price, Chapman would be a perfect fit for a Cubs team that needs bullpen help. But that cost could end up being too high, as John Harper of the New York Daily News expects the Yankees to make a serious run at the closer.


Should Cleveland Bring Back Mike Napoli?

After outfielder Michael Brantley’s season ended due to a shoulder injury early in the season, it seemed Cleveland would have a massive hole in the middle of its lineup. Luckily, first baseman Mike Napoli came through for the Indians.

In 2016, Napoli experienced a career renaissance with his power at the plate, which Cleveland desperately needed. Even with Napoli‘s 34 dingers, the Indians still finished 18th in homers in the majors. However, the 35-year-old is a pending free agent, and it is not clear how the team will handle this situation.

Prior to Game 6, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that the Indians have interest in bringing back Napoli, and the team believes the player shares that intrigue. 

“We have a desire to have him here, and my sense is that he has a desire to be here,” said Cleveland general manager Mike Chernoff, per Crasnick. “That’s something we’ll have to address once the World Series is over.”

Napoli will likely expect a raise from the one-year, $7 million deal he played on last season, given his production. But is this something Cleveland should want? Napoli is not a young player, and this past season was an outlier compared to his previous five campaigns:

His postseason numbers were also dreadful. Napoli posted a .173 average, one homer, three RBI, 21 strikeouts and just four walks. During Game 6, Sports Illustrated‘s Jonah Keri noted that Napoli‘s production was even worse, considering where he was hitting in the lineup:

The Indians do not have the payroll of big clubs such as the Cubs or Yankees. It cannot afford to be risky with players battling inconsistency such as Napoli. With Brantley set to return and the team having the option to re-sign Carlos Santana, Cleveland can make up for Napoli‘s production. It should move on unless he decides to stay at a discounted rate.


Can Both Teams Return to the World Series?

Chicago was the best team in baseball this season, and it could be better in the coming years. The team could even challenge this historic mark, courtesy of

Cubs President Theo Epstein has done a magical job of creating an influx of young talent, which sets the team up for a potential dynasty. Anthony Rizzo is the oldest member of Chicago’s offensive core moving forward at 27 years old. The remaining position players are all 24 years of age or younger. For being so young, this group still put up impressive numbers this season:

Other than Rizzo, the guys above—as well as Schwarber—have not even hit the peak of their primes yet. When they do, this lineup will be downright scary.

The rotation is also in good hands, as its top three arms still have plenty in the tank to propel another championship run. Jake Arrieta is 30 years old; Jon Lester is still 32. And 26-year-old Kyle Hendricks led the majors with a 2.13 ERA in the regular season and added a sparkling 1.42 mark in the postseason.

All three players are locked up until at least 2018, which makes the top of this Cubs rotation arguably the best in baseball next season. The bullpen could use some work, but this unit cannot be fully evaluated until the Chapman issue is resolved.

Cleveland also has plenty of reason for optimism because of the boost it will receive next season from players returning from injury.

Not only will Brantley return next season, but the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman reports that the star could be available for the entire season.

“He should be fine for spring training next year,” Chernoff said, per Sherman.

The Indians could deploy him with emerging superstar Francisco Lindor to solidify a lineup that still ranked fifth in MLB in runs without Brantley.

Cleveland was able to make this postseason run without several other key parts, as Tom Withers of the Associated Press noted:

Those two pitchers are Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. The latter returned for some relief work in the World Series, while Carrasco was shelved for the entirety of the playoffs. Here is what the Indians were missing behind ace Corey Kluber:

Having these two dynamic arms could have made the difference in this series for Cleveland. Yet, their absences gave 25-year-old Trevor Bauer some valuable experience. Bauer’s development in his fourth full season could give the Indians a formidable rotation of their own.

Napoli and possibly Rajai Davis are the only impactful free agents with a chance of leaving. Cleveland will return its sensational bullpen of Cody Allen, Andrew Miller and Bryan Shaw to go with its returning healthy players.

Given what each team is bringing back, Chicago and Cleveland look to be the favorites to emerge from their respective leagues. The volatility of MLB makes it unlikely that this will happen, but there is a chance the world could be treated to a sequel of this memorable matchup.


Statistics are courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

Contract and free-agency information are courtesy of 

Read more MLB news on

Cubs vs. Indians: Game 7 Time, TV Info, Live Stream and More

It all comes down to Wednesday night, as the Chicago Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series with each team looking to end long championship droughts.

The Cubs, having not won the World Series since 1908, battled back to tie the series after being down 3-1, including a massive 9-3 road win on Tuesday night. The Indians, who have not won a world title since 1948, could not contain the Cubs in Game 6, but the team has to feel good with several big names available to take the hill in MLB‘s final game of the 2016 season.

Let us take a look at the schedule for Game 7, as well as a breakdown of this colossal showdown at Progressive Field.


Game 7 Preview

A pair of aces will square off on Wednesday as Chicago sends out Kyle Hendricks to combat Cleveland stud Corey Kluber.

Hendricks led the majors in ERA this season at 2.13, and that strong play has carried over into the playoffs. In four starts, the 26-year-old is sporting a 1.31 ERA despite a modest 1-1 record. He did not allow a run in his lone start of the series, but he was tacked for six hits in just 4.1 innings. 

The Cubs need Hendricks to put in quality work in Game 7, which would equate to about five innings and no more than two runs allowed. Chicago has plenty of arms at its disposal that will be available in the team’s final game of the year, and CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa postulated that another Cubs ace will be a major factor:

In addition to Jon Lester, the Cubs will also have John Lackey available to potentially get a few outs. This could be significant, considering Aroldis Chapman pitched four innings in the last two games. The closer has looked sensational with only two hits and a walk allowed in that span, but will fatigue be a factor if he is needed with the game on the line Wednesday? That is yet to be determined.

Regardless of how it decides on its pitching strategy, Chicago will need its best effort, as Cleveland will deploy its full arsenal of elite arms in Game 7.

Kluber is showing off elite stuff this postseason, flashing a 4-1 mark with a 0.89 ERA in five starts. He is arguably the World Series MVP at this point, allowing just nine hits and one earned run in two starts. His ERA is also historically low, per USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:

The 30-year-old will be pitching on short rest for the second time in this series, but Cleveland’s early Game 6 blowout loss should actually help take any pressure off Kluber to go deep in Game 7.

The Indians’ dominant bullpen trio of Cody Allen, Andrew Miller and Bryan Shaw should all be fully rested after getting Tuesday night off, and the three’s 2016 postseason numbers suggest Chicago needs to get runs early to have any chance of ending its World Series drought:

This unit essentially cuts the game in half, which means Cleveland only needs four to five strong innings from Kluber before letting the bullpen bring it home. So can Cleveland grab an early lead? Well, shutting down the middle of Chicago’s lineup will be a must.

Kris Bryant is 5-for-8 with two home runs and two RBI in his last two games, while Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist have combined for 11 hits and nine RBI over that span. In Chicago’s recent pair of wins, the rest of the team combined for just four hits. 

Despite the strength of that quartet, the circumstances set up too well for Cleveland.

The team relies on dominant pitching to win close, low-scoring games, and it is boasting a ridiculous amount of firepower on the mound Wednesday. Chicago erupted for nine runs in Game 6, but six of those came off Josh Tomlin, as the Cubs are still struggling to produce consistent offense, particularly against the Indians bullpen.

Expect Cleveland to generate a tight early lead, with the bullpen and rowdy home fans providing enough push to give the team a much-awaited world championship.


Statistics are courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on

World Series 2016: Cubs vs. Indians Game 6 TV Schedule, Prediction

The dream lived on for the Chicago Cubs, as the team held on for a 3-2 win at Wrigley Field to force a Game 6. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians head back home with two chances to end a drought of their own in the 2016 World Series.

The Cubs finally mustered enough offense to earn a win, but can they build on that to tie this series on Tuesday? They will need to, as the Indians continue to get quality pitching from their rotation and their sensational bullpen.

Let us take a look at the schedule for Game 6, as well as a breakdown and prediction for the critical showdown.


Game 6 Preview 

Tuesday’s matchup features one of the game’s top pitchers against a relative unknown who emerged as a clutch performer in these playoffs.

Jake Arrieta will look to repeat his fantastic Game 2 outing, where he earned the win after going 5.2 innings and allowing two hits and one run. The 2015 Cy Young winner has dealt with inconsistency this postseason, though, as he turned in a similar performance in Game 3 of the National League Divison Series, but he was lit up for four runs in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yet, the 30-year-old is focused on his game with the intention of building on his positive outings of this postseason, per Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s JJ Stankevitz.

It’s just like any other game where you feel comfortable with the game plan and you go out there to do your best to follow through on the execution. So that’s really the only thing that I’ll be thinking about as Tuesday approaches, is just trying to be efficient. Trying to be as good as I can about moving the ball in and out, up and down and changing speeds and trying to keep those guys off balance.

Arrieta’s stellar play in his previous start is a bit surprising considering he has shaky numbers against many of Cleveland’s top batters:

Arrieta’s odds of receiving some healthy run support should increase as Chicago slugger Kyle Schwarber is set to return to the team’s lineup as a designated hitter. The 23-year-old was electric in the first two games in Cleveland, going 3-for-7 with two RBI and a pair of walks. 

Repeating that type of production will not be easy against Josh Tomlin. The Cleveland starter’s been an X-factor for the Indians with an excellent playoff run of his own, and he is also plenty locked-in for Tuesday, per

Tomlin turned in his best game of his postseason career in Game 3, stifling the Cubs for no runs and just two hits in 4.2 innings. However, Schwarber believes Chicago can have more success against the 32-year-old the second time around, per the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Sullivan.

“We might have expanded (the strike) zone here and there, but that’s an adjustment that can easily be made,” Schwarber said of Tomlin. “And that was a bunch of guys first time facing him, too. I’m sure (Tuesday) it’ll be a completely different situation and approach.”

Schwarber was correct in that the vast majority of his teammates had not previously faced Tomlin, and the Cubs were in a similar situation against another Cleveland starter.

Trevor Bauer had one career start against Chicago prior to the World Series, where he tossed 7.0 scoreless innings in a 2015 win. The second time around, against many of the current Cubs, Bauer was roughed up in Game 2 for six hits and two runs in 3.2 innings, which was followed by another loss where he allowed six hits and three runs in 4.0 innings. 

The Cubs have proved they can rebound against top pitchers, as it bounced back from a dominant Clayton Kershaw performance in Game 2 of the NLCS before breaking the ace in a Game 6 win. Yet, this trend has not held true with Cleveland star Corey Kluber, who is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in this World Series.

Cleveland first baseman Mike Napoli is confident his team can finish the job at home, as the Indians’ play at Wrigley Field proved the squad is generally playing winning baseball, per the Associated Press (via Fox Sports).

“We’re in good position, still,” Napoli said. “We’re up 3-2 going home. We did what we had to do here. We put ourselves in position to try and win it in a crazy atmosphere. We’re happy with what we did here. We’re going to get home and play in front of our fans.”

The Indians have been far more consistent in this series, which is why they have the edge in Game 6. Chicago’s offense has been streaky at best, as the team is averaging a mere two runs per game while being shut out twice. This makes it difficult to rely on the Cubs to produce.

Cleveland is finding a way to create early leads, which utilizes a dominant bullpen led by Andrew Miller. Behind a rowdy home crowd that will be aching to witness the team’s first World Series title since 1948, the Indians will follow this strategy once more and hold on to clinch the world title on Tuesday.

Prediction: Cleveland Wins 4-2


Statistics are courtesy of 

Read more MLB news on

Indians vs. Cubs Live-Stream Schedule, Odds and Pre-Game 4 Comments

The Cleveland Indians took a critical 2-1 series lead Friday night in the 2016 World Series over the Chicago Cubs, and the road team now has a chance to take a commanding advantage Saturday night in Game 4 at Wrigley Field.

In a tight pitching affair, Josh Tomlin allowed only two hits through 4.2 innings, and the dynamite bullpen combination of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen held down the fort for a 1-0 Cleveland win. Meanwhile, Chicago’s streaky offense made its presence felt again, as the team was shut out for the fourth time this postseason.

Here is a look at the full viewing schedule, including live stream, in addition to odds and some notable comments from both teams ahead of Saturday’s showdown.

Odds are according to Odds Shark.

Corey Kluber will take the mound Saturday looking to lift Cleveland with a repeat of his dominant Game 1 performance. In a 6-0 win, the Indians ace was nearly flawless in six innings while allowing no runs and four hits.

The movement of his sinker—which is especially difficult for right-handed hitters, as it ties them up at their hands to force easy grounders—was working at full force to frustrate the Chicago lineup. Anthony Rizzo elaborated on the pitch’s effectiveness after Game 1, per’s Anthony Castrovince.

“It just starts at your hip,” Rizzo said of the pitch. “And it comes in at you and then he can cut it off of that, too. … It’s just really picking a lane.”

There could be more of that sort of frustration coming for Chicago, as Kluber has been locked in during this postseason. In four starts, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner is 3-1 with a microscopic 0.74 ERA. Kluber had never pitched in the playoffs before his current campaign, and he attributes his success so far to elevated focus, per Castrovince.

“Not that there is less importance on a regular-season game,” said Kluber, “but it’s almost like you have that extra level of intensity or focus and stuff that it’s not really something you can replicate.”

Chicago proved this postseason it can rebound against top pitchers the second time around.

In the National League Championship Series, Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw owned the Cubs in Game 2 with seven innings of work while allowing no runs, two hits and one walk. In Game 6, Chicago was much better; Kershaw allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, as the Cubs were able to advance to the World Series.

Can Chicago replicate this success against Kluber? Well, it may need to find a way to get Kyle Schwarber involved. At this point, though, it seems Schwarber will not be available for multiple at-bats in any game at Wrigley Field:

He can make an impact as a pinch hitter and as a presence in the dugout, as Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said the team views his bat and character as his greatest assets, per Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci:

His bat and his intangibles are why we drafted him. He’s a complete impact hitter with the bat, but more than that he’s the perfect player to have as a franchise player because he can be one of your best players who everybody else wants to follow because of his character. He’s a special player and a special person.

Schwarber popped out in his lone pinch-hit effort in Game 3. Chicago’s lineup lacked some of the swagger Friday that it had when Schwarber was in the lineup for Games 1 and 2, as it only totaled five hits, so it will need to find another source of offense if Schwarber continues to start on the bench.

The uncertainty around Chicago’s offense puts some extra pressure to perform on John Lackey, who will start Game 4 for the Cubs. The 38-year-old has plenty of playoff experience, but his starts this postseason have been very spread out, as he noted Friday, per the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Skrbina.

“It has been kind of a crazy schedule for me,” Lackey said. “I feel like I’m pitching every two weeks kind of deal. Once you get into the game you kind of fall back on things you’ve been doing all season, and hopefully you execute.”

Lackey has not pitched since Oct. 19, when he tossed four innings with two runs and three hits allowed in a no-decision that resulted in a 10-2 win. His only other start came Oct. 11, when Lackey also went four innings in a no-decision.

However, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is still confident he can get a quality outing out of Lackey in a critical ballgame, per Skrbina:

I just want to believe that he keeps getting stronger. But there is a certain amount of rust element involved. However, I have a lot of faith in John, and I know he’s going to be ready. I never worry about him, man. He has been there, done that, and I know he’ll be ready for (Saturday).

Lackey’s history against the current Cleveland roster suggests he should do fine Saturday, as most of the Indians have struggled against the righty:

Given Lackey’s track record this postseason, the Cubs should not expect more than five innings from their starter. This could be troubling considering the fact Chicago has not generated any consistent offense and that it will be going against an ace in Kluber.

The Indians already proved they can win at Wrigley Field, and they should be favored in this one. However, the Cubs cannot be counted out just yet, as the team responded to a two-game scoreless streak against the Dodgers with 23 combined runs in the next three contests. Chicago has the ability to explode offensively; it just remains to be seen if it can do so against Kluber.


Statistics are courtesy of

Read more MLB news on

World Series Schedule: TV Info and Live Stream for Indians vs. Cubs Game 3

The 2016 World Series became all knotted up Wednesday, as the Chicago Cubs were able to steal a road win over the Cleveland Indians.

After Cleveland shut out Chicago 6-0 in Game 1, the Cubs returned the favor in Game 2 with a 5-1 win behind stout performances from Jake Arrieta and Kyle Schwarber. Now the series shifts for a three-game set in Chicago, as the Cubs have a chance to grab a lead at home.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the television and live-stream schedule for Game 3, in addition to a preview of the critical showdown.

Game 3 Preview

Not only was Game 2 important for the Cubs in terms of tying the series, but it also put the team in position to take advantage of a nice pitching matchup on Friday with a series lead on the line.

Chicago will trot out Kyle Hendricks, who became one of the best pitchers in baseball this season in a loaded Cubs rotation. The 26-year-old led the majors with a 2.13 ERA, and he has been excellent this postseason with just three earned runs allowed in 16.1 innings.

Hendricks was much better at home this season than on the road. He went 9-2 with a sparkling 1.32 ERA at Wrigley Field compared to a 7-6 mark on the road, which was the best in baseball, per CSN Chicago’s Christopher Kamka:

However, we don’t know how Hendricks will handle Cleveland’s lineup, since he has practically no experience against the current roster. He has faced only Marlon Byrd and Coco Crisp, and since Byrd has not been a playoff contributor, the only relevant comparison is with Crisp, who is 0-for-3 against Hendricks.

The Cy Young candidate should have plenty of confidence, as he proved he can win on the big stage in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. With a trip to the World Series on the line, Hendricks was sensational with two hits and no runs allowed in 7.1 innings. That garnered praise from his potential MVP teammate, per’s Bradford Doolittle.

“That’s the best pitching performance I’ve seen,” Kris Bryant said after Game 6. “Just throwing exactly where he wants to. Soft contact. He’s certainly the unsung hero of this team.”

Cleveland will counter with Josh Tomlin, who was solid this season with a 13-9 record and 4.40 ERA.

With Danny Salazar just coming back from injury and Carlos Carrasco out, Tomlin was thrust into the playoff rotation and has responded well. Though he has only 10.2 innings pitched in two starts, he is 2-0 with a stout 2.53 ERA with only three walks allowed. 

Indians manager Terry Francona seems to have plenty of trust in Tomlin, as the 32-year-old is expected to receive multiple starts in this series, per Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller:

Both of those starts will come at Wrigley Field, and as opposed to Hendricks, Tomlin actually performed better on the road this season than in Cleveland. He went 8-4 with a 4.31 ERA on the road compared to 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA at home.

Tomlin also has little experience against this current Cubs roster, having faced only Miguel Montero, David Ross and Ben Zobrist. In 19 career at-bats, Zobrist has just two hits off Tomlin.

It looks like the difference in Game 3 will be which team can get runners in scoring position. On the season, Hendricks was excellent in this situation, surrendering just a .178 opposing batting average in 33.2 innings pitched. On the other hand, Tomlin struggled with a .287 opposing average in 29.2 innings. He also allowed 49 earned runs to Hendricks’ 29.

Through two games this series, Chicago has been able to get in this position more often than Cleveland has, but the Cubs are converting at a less efficient rate. They are 4-for-23 combined with runners in scoring position, while the Indians are 2-for-13.

Given that the Cubs are generating more baserunners in scoring position, they should feel good going up against Tomlin. There will also be a ton of energy in Wrigley Field, as Chicago is playing its first World Series game in the stadium since 1945.

This should give Chicago an edge in Game 3, especially if Hendricks continues to pitch well. Cleveland could have a chance to hold off the home team if it can get a lead after about five innings of work from Tomlin, but that may be a lot to ask for.


Statistics are courtesy of and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on

World Series 2016 Schedule: Updated TV, Live-Stream Coverage Guide

The Chicago Cubs bounced back from an abysmal Game 1 performance to beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Wednesday, leveling the 2016 World Series 1-1 as it heads to Wrigley Field.

Earning a road win is critical for both teams, as each was among the best in the majors while playing at home. Cleveland was tied for the top home record in the American League with the Texas Rangers at 53-28, while the Cubs led MLB at 57-24. Chicago did its part in stealing a road victory, so now the Indians will have to do the same to stay alive in the Fall Classic.

With two games in the books, let’s take a look at the updated television and live-stream schedules for the rest of the 2016 World Series.

After Cleveland took the series opener with great pitching and timely hitting, the roles seemed to reverse Wednesday night. 

Jake Arrieta nearly matched Corey Kluber’s performance in the previous game, with the Chicago starter going 5.2 innings while allowing only two hits and one run. Kluber may have been slightly better in Game 1, going 6.0 innings with four hits and no runs allowed, but Arrieta got off to a historic start, per SportsCenter:

The Cubs’ bats also woke up. After going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in Game 1 to Cleveland’s 2-for-9, Chicago went 3-for-12 Wednesday to the Indians’ 0-for-4. This resulted in RBI from four different Cubs in the win.

Another major reason why this series is tied is the re-emergence of Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber.

After missing practically the entire regular season with a knee injury, Schwarber battled back in his rehabilitation to make a surprising appearance on Chicago’s World Series roster, and the team’s faith in the 23-year-old is paying off. Through two games, Schwarber is 3-for-7 with two RBI and a pair of walks, generating two runs in Wednesday’s win.

His teammate Kris Bryant, who could be the National League MVP this season, raved about Schwarber’s play so far, per CSN Chicago’s Cubs Talk:

However, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, it’s possible Schwarber could be back in the outfield sooner rather than later. Schwarber has only been cleared thus far to hit and run the bases but not to play the outfield. He has already served as the designated hitter through two games, but the team wants to be cautious about rushing him back into the outfield just six months removed from serious knee surgery. 

Rosenthal reported that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein will consult team doctors Friday, but Epstein said Schwarber will get a chance to impact the game in some capacity during the three-game stretch at Wrigley Field.

“He’s got tremendous strength and flexibility in the knee, as demonstrated by what he’s done out there,” Epstein said. “We’ll see. If he does end up playing out there, we’ll make sure he’s smart about it. If he doesn’t, we’ll put him in a big spot (as a pinch hitter) to take one of the most important at-bats of the game.”

Having Schwarber in the lineup is critical to helping a Cubs offense that has failed to establish any consistency this postseason. He’s been the best hitter for the team through two games this series, and one has to believe Chicago will do everything it can to get him on the field at Wrigley without jeopardizing his future.

For Cleveland, a young star of its own is making some big noise this postseason.

Francisco Lindor continues to be the team’s best position player, making an impact at the plate, on the basepaths and in the field. He is hitting 3-for-7 in this series with a double, walk and stolen base, which continues his terrific overall 2016 playoff numbers of a .342 average with four RBI.

The 22-year-old credited his teammates for his success when speaking before Game 2, per’s Paul Hoynes:

I think it has to do with my teammates. Michael Brantley, Mike Napoli, Jason Kipnis, Roberto Perez and Jose Ramirez—all of them. 

We’ve kept that same mentality in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field since day one. I’m just trying to do the exact same thing since day one, just somehow get on base. Just find a good pitch to hit and get on base. If I don’t get on base, I just try to find a way to help the team win that day.

Cleveland will need Lindor to pace the offense in Game 3, as the Indians have a difficult matchup.

Kyle Hendricks, who led the majors with a 2.13 ERA in the regular season, will take the hill against Josh Tomlin, which seems to favor the Cubs on paper. Tomlin was a decent 13-9 this season with a 4.40 ERA, and he has been good this postseason with wins in both of his starts for 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings.

However, Hendricks has been excellent all year. He went 16-8 in the regular season, and through three postseason starts, the 26-year-old has allowed just three runs in 16.1 innings.

Chicago seems to have the edge in pitching in Game 3, but Cleveland has proved people wrong all season as it sits in this position despite dealing with a slew of injuries. Thus, it looks like this could be a close, exciting contest in Wrigley’s first World Series game since 1945.

Read more MLB news on

Cubs vs. Indians Live-Stream Schedule, Odds and Pre-Game 2 Comments

The Cleveland Indians were able to take an early series lead with a 6-0 win in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series, and the Chicago Cubs will look to avoid a difficult two-game hole on Wednesday in Game 2.

The Indians used a quick start and some dominant pitching to earn the comfortable victory, as a two-run first inning was all the team needed. Wednesday’s contest will also be moved up early due to rain concerns later in the night, per MLB.

Let us take a look at the television and live-stream schedules, the latest odds and some comments from both teams ahead of Game 2.

Jake Arrieta is set to take the hill in Game 2, as he tries to rediscover the dominant form that had him penciled in as the Cy Young favorite at the beginning of the season.

Arrieta was 9-0 with an ERA under 2.00 through May, but he has faltered slightly ever since. The 30-year-old went 9-8 for the rest of the season, but he still finished with a solid 3.10 ERA. 

That slide has continued a bit in these playoffs, where Arrieta has two starts for an 0-1 record and a 4.91 ERA in just 11 innings. The Cubs need their star pitcher to turn it around on Wednesday, but they also need some offense and a strong arm behind the plate. As a result, Chicago manager Joe Maddon is contemplating whether to play Arrieta‘s preferred catcher, Miguel Montero, or the more skilled Willson Contreras.

“The facts are the facts,” Maddon said, per Paul Skrbina of the Chicago Tribune. “They run, and Willson is one of the best young throwers in the game. You have to balance out how comfortable you think Jake’s going to be throwing to him versus Miggy.”

Of Chicago’s three catchers, including David Ross, Contreras led the team by throwing out just over 37 percent of runners attempting to steal, while Montero threw out just under 11 percent and Ross posted roughly a 27 percent success rate. The Indians were fourth in the majors with 134 stolen bases in the regular season, but they have just four in nine games in these playoffs.

Of the two under consideration to start Game 2, Contreras has been far better offensively, hitting .282 in the regular season and .409 in the postseason compared to the .216 and .111 respective marks from Montero.

Adding a surprise bat into the World Series lineup in Kyle Schwarber could also get Arrieta some needed run support. The pitcher is certainly confident, as was relayed by’s Jesse Rogers before Game 1:

Chicago president Theo Epstein also expressed assurance in the young Schwarber, praising the 23-year-old’s rigorous rehabilitation from an early-season knee injury, per the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Sullivan.

“He did unbelievable job as a rehabbing player, and we weren’t going to take the opportunity away from him,” Epstein said. “He’s also a special talent and a special kid, and if anyone can contribute in a World Series environment after only four or five days of live pitching, it’s probably him.”

Schwarber did not show much rust on Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with a double and a crucial walk off Andrew Miller in the seventh inning to help load the bases.

On the other side, Trevor Bauer will start for the first time since his first-inning exit against the Toronto Blue Jays on Oct. 17. Yet, he does not anticipate his lacerated finger to cause problems again, per’s Jerry Crasnick:

Bauer will have a tough act to follow, as Corey Kluber was sensational in Game 1, going six innings, allowing no runs and four hits, and setting a franchise record with nine strikeouts in a World Series game, per SportsCenter.

As’s Andrew Marchand reported before Game 1, Cleveland manager Terry Francona is hoping he can get quality outings from his first three starters, which also includes Josh Tomlin. This would allow Kluber the opportunity for a possible Game 7 start, but Francona needs his other starters to help.

“It’s not just one guy can handle it and maybe come back early,” Francona said, per Marchand. “Because once you do that, then the other guys pretty much have to, too, [or] you’re really not helping yourself.”

While Kluber and the Cleveland bullpen were the catalysts for the win, the team did score six runs behind a breakout performance from catcher Roberto Perez. He went 2-for-4 on Tuesday, including two historic home runs, per USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:

Perez’s teammates took notice of Perez’s play, as Miller noted that the mostly unproven player deserves his current playing time, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

“He should be a star catcher,” Miller said. “He’s going in that direction. He’s that good behind the plate defensively.”

Francisco Lindor, who also had a big night by going 3-for-4 with a walk, said that despite Perez’s abysmal .183 average this season, the catcher had the potential for this type of outing, per Rosenthal.

“Remember, he went a long time without playing,” Lindor said. “He just needed time. If you take away the first 70 to 100 at-bats, he had a good offensive year.”

Still, even with the 15 total strikeouts and shaky pitching in Game 1, Ross believes the Cubs can build from this loss and improve against Cleveland’s top guys as the series progresses, per‘s Jordan Bastian and Carrie Muskat.

“We knew [the Indians’ formula] going in,” Ross said about facing Kluber, Miller and Cody Allen, “but I think the moral of the story is we got to see those guys on Day 1. Hopefully, that will pay off later.” 

Chicago better hope it can bounce back, as its streaky postseason offense once again did the team in. With some uncertainty around how well Arrieta will pitch and which Cubs lineup will appear, it looks like it could be a tough Game 2 for the visitors.

Chicago did show that it can improve against aces when seeing them again, as it solved Clayton Kershaw to clinch the NLCS from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yet, the series could be spinning out of control for the Cubs by the time Kluber returns to the mound for Game 4.


Statistics are courtesy of unless otherwise noted. Game 2 odds courtesy of Odds Shark.

Read more MLB news on

World Series 2016: Schedule and Predictions for Cubs vs. Indians Game 1

One team’s prolonged championship drought will end in the 2016 World Series, as the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians start the last leg of their playoff journeys in Game 1 on Tuesday.

The Cubs’ MLB title drought is already well-known, as the team has gone without a championship since 1908. The Cubs are making their first World Series appearance since 1945, and they’ll look to their top postseason arm to lead them to a tough road win.

On the other hand, Cleveland has not won the World Series since 1948, which is the longest drought in the American League. The Indians will also trot out an ace on Tuesday in what seems likely to be a low-scoring affair.

Let’s take a look at the schedule and preview for Game 1 of the Fall Classic.


Game 1 Preview

Jon Lester is set to take the hill for the Cubs to kick off the series, and he has been excellent during his postseason career. 

In 19 appearances—17 of them starts—Lester is 8-6 with a 2.50 ERA and a 3.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s been even better this postseason, with a 2-0 mark and a 0.86 ERA in three starts. Lester’s World Series history also suggests he should be comfortable on Tuesday night, per ESPN Stats & Info:

However, Lester’s matchup against this Indians lineup suggests his stout playoff numbers may not hold up.

Cleveland was among the best teams in the majors against left-handed pitching this season, ranking sixth overall with a .268 club average. Lester also has a shaky history against many of the current Indians:

Lester hasn’t allowed more than one run in any start this postseason, but that streak may be in jeopardy. Cleveland has shown it can hit the lefty, and it will surely be amped by the rowdy home crowd. That could result in some early offense.

Lester will still pitch well, but he could give up a few runs on Tuesday.

As for his counterpart, Corey Kluber is another formidable arm that is also dominating in these playoffs.

In three starts, the 2014 Cy Young winner is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA. Kluber put up these numbers against two of the top offenses in baseball, as the Boston Red Sox led the league in scoring this season and the Toronto Blue Jays lineup boasts some scary talent, including Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki.

Those three starts continued a trend of dominance that Kluber has enjoyed since the All-Star break. In the second half of the regular season, he was 9-1 with a 2.52 ERA. 

Thanks to its phenomenal bullpen, Cleveland has not needed many innings from its starters. But Kluber has been the exception to that, as he has a solid 18.1 innings of work this postseason. That raises the pressure on Kluber to go deeper into games to preserve the bullpen if this series goes long.

Kluber does not have much experience against the Cubs, with Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist being the only players with more than three at-bats against the Cleveland starter. In addition, Chicago has been streaky offensively this postseason, so there is little certainty as to how it will produce on Tuesday.

With both starters likely to be solid, this game could come down to the bullpen, giving Cleveland an edge. Led by Andrew Miller, the Indians have been riding their relievers to wins all postseason, as’s Jordan Bastian noted in this tweet:

It’s tough to imagine either team scoring more than a few runs in this one, given the pitching prowess both clubs present. This game could be won on a late run, and Cleveland’s odds of getting the win look to be higher than Chicago’s, given the strength of its bullpen and its AL-best 53-28 regular-season home record. Expect a close Indians win in Game 1.

Prediction: Cleveland wins, 3-2


Statistics are courtesy of unless noted otherwise.

Read more MLB news on

MLB Playoffs 2016: Updated LCS Bracket, TV Schedule and Live-Stream Guide

After erupting offensively in the last two games, the Chicago Cubs took a 3-2 series lead Thursday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2016 National League Championship Series with the thrilling matchup set to return to Wrigley Field this weekend.

The Cleveland Indians are awaiting in the World Series, as they will host the opening two games with a fearsome bullpen that appears ready to lift this team to a championship. Yet, the Cubs and Dodgers must focus on pulling out their current series before worrying about Andrew Miller and company in the next round.

Let us take a look at the remaining NLCS television and live-stream schedule, as well as a breakdown of what lies ahead in Game 6.

A full MLB playoff bracket can be found at 


Game 6 Preview

Despite dropping two straight games earlier in this series without scoring a run, Chicago seems to have broken out of its offensive slump with 18 runs in the last two games.

The emergence of Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell is a big reason why. After coming into Game 4 with one hit in 26 at-bats, Rizzo is 5-for-10 with four RBI in his last two games. Russell entered Game 4 with one hit in 24 at-bats before exploding for 5-for-10 with four RBI as well in his previous two outings.

With a critical Game 5 on the line, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decided to tab rookie Kenta Maeda, which did not turn out great as the starter went only 3.2 innings and allowed a run. This was Maeda‘s second loss of the series. However, Los Angeles has plenty of reason to be confident for a possible Game 7 with the proposition of Clayton Kershaw taking the mound on Saturday.

He will be coming off full rest from his last start in Game 2, where he went 7.2 innings with two hits and no runs allowed at Wrigley Field. This seems to be OK with the 28-year-old star, per the Los Angeles Times‘ Andy McCullough:

Before Game 5, Chicago manager Joe Maddon seemed to recognize the immense challenge his lineup faces, per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:

When [Kershaw]’s pitching well, he’s just that good. There is that certain set of pitchers that are that guy, and the confidence he brings to their group. There is no question about that. But at this time of the year, if you wanted to get to your ultimate goal, you have to beat people like that. You have to.

There’s always been that group of pitchers through history that pitched a lot in the postseason because they’re very good. And he’s one of them.

The lefty possesses a commanding fastball and a slew of other pitches that keep batters off balance. Yet, the Cubs were one of the better clubs in baseball against left-handed pitching, ranking seventh with a .267 team average. However, that mark has dropped dramatically in the postseason, where Chicago is hitting .170 as a team.

Kyle Hendricks is set to take the hill for the home team after a regular season in which he led the majors with a 2.13 ERA. He has been solid this postseason with three runs allowed in 9.0 innings, but Hendricks lost his Game 2 start to Kershaw.

Yet, the 26-year-old has been historically good against this Dodgers roster, as all current players are hitting a combined .195 against Hendricks for their careers. Although there is not a huge sample size, Hendricks has been stout against Los Angeles’ top bats:

This game looks to be a low-scoring affair similar to the 1-0 Dodgers win in Game 2. The Cubs have a slight advantage in this one simply because they are at home, where they sported MLB’s top home record this season with a stout 57-24 mark. Still, Kershaw was unfazed by this in Game 2, handing Chicago its first home loss of the playoffs.

Los Angeles’ suddenly dormant lineup could be the difference. The Dodgers have combined for a pedestrian six runs and 13 hits in the last two games, and the team is batting .224 in the postseason. Given that the club struggled on the road this season with a 38-43 record, it is tough to believe it can pull out a win on Saturday despite Kershaw‘s brilliance.


Statistics are courtesy of

Read more MLB news on

MLB Playoffs 2016: TV Schedule, Top Player Comments, Highlights and Stats

With the American League pennant wrapped up, the final stage of the 2016 MLB playoffs is nearly set as the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers are now interlocked in a 2-2 series.

For the first time since 1997, the Cleveland Indians are in the World Series. Despite several key injuries, the team used timely hitting and a dynamite bullpen to beat the high-powered Toronto Blue Jays in five games. Cleveland has not won baseball’s top prize since 1948, which is the longest active drought of any AL team, per Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated.

As for the National League Championship Series, the Cubs bats finally showed some life to get Chicago back into the series. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ lack of pitching depth looks to be hurting the team the longer this matchup goes on.

Take a look below at the television and live-streaming schedule for the remainder of the postseason. Continue reading for a look at the top comments, highlights and key statistics for the Indians and the NLCS


Cleveland Continues to Disprove Doubters

With two starters in Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar out with injuries, it appeared that Cleveland would not have enough pitching to conquer two elite offenses in Boston and Toronto. Yet, players like Ryan Merritt have defied that notion.

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista seemed rather confident before taking on the unknown Merritt, a 24-year-old who made his second-ever MLB start—and first in the playoffs—in Game 5.

“With our experience in our lineup, I’m pretty sure [Merritt]’s going to be shaking in his boots more than we are,” Bautista said prior to the game, per Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith.

After Merritt allowed only two hits in 4.1 scoreless innings in the Indians’ 3-0 win, Cleveland was not shy in responding to the comments, per the Boston Herald‘s Evan Drellich:

Cleveland ace Corey Kluber also took to Twitter for his own take:

While Merritt’s performance helped clinch the series’ deciding game, the Cleveland bullpen has been the star of its postseason run.

Manager Terry Francona has opted with leaning on his relief staff often in these playoffs, and the unit has shined, as the numbers below show:

Andrew Miller has led this charge, as the trade-deadline acquisition is leading the bullpen in innings pitched while absolutely dominating with a commanding fastball and complementary slider, netting him nearly two strikeouts per inning. His stuff was on full display in another extended appearance in Game 5 of the ALCS, via

Boston led the majors in runs scored this season, and Toronto possessed one of the scariest lineups in baseball that allowed it to rank fourth in MLB in home runs. Thus, the Cleveland bullpen should be able to handle either the Cubs or the Dodgers in the Fall Classic.

The key for the Indians will be building early leads. Kluber, and possibly Josh Tomlin, is the team’s only given as far as a bona fide starter, so Cleveland cannot ride its rotation too heavily. If the Indians hold a lead by the fifth inning, they should be expected to win, which is a frightening proposition for opponents as the Cleveland bullpen essentially cuts the game in half.


Can the Cubs Continue Offensive Resurgence?

Despite featuring a deep, loaded lineup that is headlined by NL MVP candidates Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Chicago has been mired in an offensive slump in these playoffs.

The team came into Game 4 of the NLCS averaging just over 3.5 runs per game and hitting .185 as a team, which is the worst by far of any club remaining in the postseason. Yet, Bryant was not too worried about his squad’s struggles after it failed to score a run in consecutive losses to the Dodgers, per the Chicago Tribune‘s Mark Gonzales.

“We’ll figure it out,” Bryant said. “We’re very confident here. The peaks and valleys of this game sometimes make you go crazy, but we got more games to play.”

That assurance came to fruition, as the Cubs seemingly grabbed the momentum in this series with a 10-2 thrashing of Los Angeles in Game 4. The team scored all 10 runs in a three-inning span between the fourth and sixth with Rizzo breaking out of his slump for three RBI and Addison Russell hitting a two-run jack. The two were due to step up, per MLB Stat of the Day:

After the game, other Cubs echoed Bryant’s sentiment that the team was confident it would find offense, including veteran Ben Zobrist, per CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney:

Jason Heyward, another Cub in a deep offensive struggle, commented that just getting people on base was key to the team’s performance, as it had not done that much this postseason, per Gonzales:

It was tough when you have nobody on base, trying to get people on base. Until you get somebody on base, you cant steal first. Until you can do that, it’s tough. There’s a lot of pressure, especially in the postseason. We were able to do that with some singles. It wasn’t home runs. It was singles.

We got people on base and it allowed us to hit a ground ball to second base. The first (at-bat) was a tough AB, trying to put the ball in play. (Urias) made some pitches to Rizzo and me, but it’s a lot easier to get that run home with a runner on third base with less than two outs.

The win was not without some controversy. With the game scoreless in the second inning, Adrian Gonzalez appeared to score at home, but he was called out in a play that stood up on review, via

This did not make a huge difference in the rout, but it could have changed the game a bit if the Dodgers began with a lead. Gonzalez was heard pleading his case from the dugout on Fox’s television broadcast, and he continued to do so after the game, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register:

In hopes of taking a critical 3-2 series lead, the Dodgers will turn to Kenta Maeda in possibly their last home game of the season. Maeda was roughed up for four hits and three runs through only four innings in his Game 1 start.

Los Angeles better hope Maeda rebounds from that performance, as it will take on an ace in Jon Lester who has thrived against the Dodgers this season.

The lefty has only allowed a mere two runs in three quality starts while consistently frustrating the Dodgers. This comes as no surprise, considering Los Angeles finished last in the majors this season with a .214 batting average against lefty pitching, according to

Whether or not the Cubs have completely broken out of their slump is not yet known, but the good news is that they do not need to replicate this for Game 5. Lester is an established star in the playoffs, posting a 2.57 career ERA in 18 appearances, including 16 starts.

Chicago will have a tremendous chance to take a series lead back home, as it should only need to score around its average for this postseason to pull out a win. However, this matchup could very well go seven games with Clayton Kershaw looming as a potential Game 6 starter.


Statistics are courtesy of unless otherwise noted. 

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress