The postseason of the bullpens ran into an everlasting truth in the first two games of the World Series.

The team with the better starting pitcher still wins most games. And the team with more good starting pitchers has an edge over the team that doesn’t have enough.

Officially, this World Series is tied at a win apiece after Wednesday night’s 5-1 Chicago Cubs victory in Game 2. Realistically, the Cubs have a significant edge over the Cleveland Indians for the same reason they had a big edge in Game 2.

Overall, their starting pitchers are better.

Maybe you didn’t see it in Game 1, because Corey Kluber is a true ace who was able to outpitch Cubs star Jon Lester. You sure did see it in Game 2, because while Cubs starter Jake Arrieta was a perfect fit for the assignment, Trevor Bauer was just an Indians version of Julio Urias or Kenta Maeda.

Remember them? They were the guys the Los Angeles Dodgers had to send to the mound in Games 4 and Game 5 of the NLCS after back-to-back shutouts put the Cubs in a 2-1 hole in the series.

Urias went 3.2 innings. The Dodgers lost big.

Maeda went 3.2 innings. The Dodgers lost big.

Soon enough, the Cubs were out of the hole and headed to the World Series.

So there the Cubs were Wednesday, trying to recover from their Game 1 loss to Kluber. They turned to Arrieta, who won a Cy Young Award last year. The Indians went to Bauer, who has talent but can’t always harness it.

Bauer went 3.2 innings. Guess who won big?

It helped, obviously, that Arrieta didn’t give up a hit for the first five innings. It helped that the Cubs had Kyle Schwarber, whose miraculous return looks more amazing by the day.

But on a night where the cold weather made pitching difficult, the Cubs had a starter who was up for the job. The Indians didn’t.

Arrieta threw too many pitches (98 in 5.2 innings), and he admitted to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that the cold weather kept him from getting a consistent feel of the ball.

“I did my best just to make some pitches,” he said.

That’s the difference between a guy who has won a Cy Young and a guy who has good stuff but is still far from figuring things out. Arrieta made pitches to get himself out of trouble, while Bauer kept making pitches that got him into trouble.

For all the questions after Game 1 about whether Andrew Miller’s 46 pitches would keep him out of Game 2, what really kept him out of Game 2 was the starting pitching mismatch. By making sure the Indians never got the lead, Arrieta kept Miller safely stowed away in the Indians bullpen.

Miller could still have a major impact on this World Series. So could Kluber, with the Indians making plans to start him on short rest in Game 4 and thus have him available to start a Game 7 (also on short rest).

But it’s going to take more than the two of them for the Indians to win it. They’re going to need a good performance from Josh Tomlin, who starts Game 3 against National League ERA champ Kyle Hendricks. They’re going to need someone to give them a chance in a Game 5 and a Game 6.

The Cubs have four legitimate World Series starters, with John Lackey set to go in Game 4. The Indians would have had the same thing if Danny Salazar (forearm) and Carlos Carrasco (hand) hadn’t got hurt in September.

It’s a credit to this team that it got this far without Carrasco and Salazar (who returned for the World Series and pitched out of the bullpen Wednesday). They deserve their place in the World Series, and they still could win it.

As big an edge as the Cubs starters have on paper, it’s no bigger than the edge Florida Marlins ace Kevin Brown had over Chad Ogea in Games 2 and 6 of the 1997 World Series. Ogea won both of those games and would have been the World Series MVP if the Indians had held on in Game 7.

The Indians are going to need another Ogea this week, another relative unknown to shine. Otherwise, the Cubs’ rotation edge will likely play out the way it did Wednesday night.

They had the better starting pitcher. They won the game.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on