Game 1 of the 2016 World Series went to the Cleveland Indians thanks to timely hitting and a stellar pitching performance by Corey Kluber, who along with relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen kept the Chicago Cubs off the scoreboard in a decisive 6-0 victory.

While winning the series opener is far better than losing it, it’d be premature to anoint the Indians as world champions. The Cubs are plenty capable of winning four of the next six games to make the Tribe’s Game 1 success a fleeting memory.

But before either team can think about embarking on a late-October winning streak, there’s Game 2 to deal with, which will pit Chicago’s Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA) against Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA).

Bauer, who injured his pinky finger while repairing a drone and was limited his last time out, insists his injured digit won’t be an issue. We’ll find out whether he’s right soon enough.

What follows are the keys for each team finding success when the action gets underway from Progressive Field on Wednesday night.


Cubs: Attack, Attack, Attack

Chicago adopted a more patient approach at the plate in 2016, leading baseball with a franchise-record 656 walks and the National League with a .343 on-base percentage, second in the majors to Boston’s .348 mark.

“The more opportunities you’re going to get, the better off you’re going to be,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo explained to the Chicago Tribune‘s Mark Gonzales earlier this month. So it’s no surprise to see that Rizzo and his teammates were more productive when they took the first pitch of an at-bat.

Per FanGraphs, the Cubs were also one of the most productive teams against fastballs, generating more than 70 runs above average when faced with a heater. Guess what Bauer loves to throw, regardless of batters’ handedness, to start an at-bat?

According to Brooks Baseball, Bauer throws gas on the first pitch roughly 70 percent of the time. 

If that wasn’t enough reason for the Cubs to come out swinging in Game 2, there are also these numbers to consider:

That’s a massive drop in production—nearly as massive as Roberto Perez’s two home runs in Game 1.

For the Cubs to find success against Bauer in Game 2, they have to attack him as soon as they step into the batter’s box. There’s no mystery as to what he’s likely to start them off with.

That’s great news for the top of Chicago’s order, as Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant, Rizzo and Ben Zobrist, who went a combined 3-for-15 with a walk and four strikeouts in Game 1 (Zobrist had all three hits), all fare well against heat.


Indians: Exploit the Matchup

As David Adler wrote for, Cleveland has had success against Arrieta in the past, with the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner pitching to a 8.69 ERA over four career starts against the Tribe, which is “more than two runs higher than his next-worst mark” against any other team. 

While only one of those starts came during Arrieta’s time with the Cubs—a five-inning stint on June 16, 2015, in which he allowed four earned runs while issuing six walks—the Tribe seem to have a good idea of how to attack the 30-year-old right-hander.

There’s also the issue of Cleveland’s baserunning prowess, which was a factor in Game 1 with Jon Lester on the mound. Opponents stole 23 bases against Arrieta during the regular season, tied for the fifth-highest total in baseball.

To combat that, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is considering starting rookie Willson Contreras behind the plate rather than Miguel Montero, Arrieta’s usual battery mate. 

“The facts are the facts,” Maddon told the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Skrbina before Game 1. “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.”

But here’s the thing: Arrieta isn’t comfortable with Contreras behind the plate.

While Contreras is a better hitter than Montero, there’s little difference between the two when it comes to controlling the running game with Arrieta on the mound.

Between Arrieta’s shaky history against the Indians, his recent struggles (a 4.97 ERA over his last five starts, including the playoffs) and the possibility he’ll be throwing to a catcher he doesn’t have a great rapport with, the stars are aligned for the Indians to jump out to an early lead in Game 2.


Both Teams: Ride Their Starters As Long as Possible

The threat of rain is very real in Game 2—enough for MLB to bump the first pitch up by an hour to try to stay ahead of the inclement weather.

According to the hourly forecast on, the rain is only going to intensify as the night goes on. Don’t count on the game being called after only five or six innings—there’s a better chance of Albert Belle and Sammy Sosa coming out of retirement than there is of a rain-shortened World Series game.

But a lengthy rain delay is likely, and there’s a chance the weather could get bad enough for the umpires to suspend play until Thursday, which is supposed to be a travel day as the Fall Classic moves to Chicago for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 at Wrigley Field.

Whether it’s late Wednesday night or Thursday, both teams are going to need to lean on their bullpens to finish things up in Game 2. Accordingly, it would behoove each for Arrieta and Bauer to pitch as deep into the game as possible, something neither has been able to do with much success of late.

Arrieta lasted only five innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, while Bauer has yet to finish five full innings this postseason, lasting only two-thirds of an inning in Game 3 of the NLCS due to his bleeding pinky.

Cleveland figures to be without its most valuable reliever, Miller, who threw 46 pitches in relief of Kluber in Game 1. That could give the Cubs the advantage in a rain-delayed contest.

Should the game be postponed to Thursday, we could see Danny Salazar take the hill for the Indians. Salazar, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 9 due to a strained forearm, is expected to be on a strict pitch count.

No matter what Mother Nature has in store, one thing is for sure—the pitchers who start Game 2 won’t be the ones who finish it.


Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of and FanGraphs.

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