At the beginning of the postseason, I predicted that the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series this year and end the organization’s famous title drought. I’m sticking to my guns, folks. 

Sure, I also predicted that they would ultimately beat the Boston Red Sox to do so. Instead, if the Cubs reach the World Series, they’ll have to contend with Cleveland, which has gone 7-1 in the postseason and dispatched two of baseball’s most dangerous offenses, the Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

Below, we’ll take a look at the remaining schedule 

Finally, it happened. Finally, the Cubs offense awoke.

After being shut out in the last two NLCS games, the Cubs exploded in a 10-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night. Perhaps more importantly, the slumping Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo each homered and combined to go 6-for-10 with five RBI and four runs scored between them.

“This is a big win, for sure,” Rizzo said after the game, per Ken Gurnick and Carrie Muskat of “To even up the series, we have a chance to take another one here [Thursday] and go home with a 3-2 lead. In a way, this is just one game and we know it’s going to be a quick turnaround, but this was definitely a big game for us.”

Added Ben Zobrist: “We know our offense is too good to keep down for a long time. Hopefully, tonight is an indication of what’s to come.”

If nothing else, the win guarantees the series will return to Chicago for at least one game, where the Cubs were an MLB-best 57-24 during the regular season. The Dodgers will be hoping that Kenta Maeda can pitch them to a Game 5 win, setting them up to wrap up the series with Clayton Kershaw in Game 6.

Game 5, then, is crucial for the Cubs. Heading into an elimination game against Kershaw is hardly ideal. Win, however, and the Cubs get two cracks at advancing at home. Look for this series to go the full seven games but the Cubs moving one step closer to ending their championship drought.

While the Cubs perhaps turned the NLCS around, Cleveland booked its berth in the Fall Classic:

Cleveland has won behind a pitching staff that has posted a remarkable 1.77 ERA with 81 strikeouts over 71 innings. Opposing hitters have posted a meager .206 batting average against the Tribe, and starter Corey Kluber (2-1 with a 0.89 ERA and 1.09 WHIP), reliever extraordinaire Andrew Miller (21 strikeouts in 11.2 innings, no earned runs allowed, 0.60 WHIP) and closer Cody Allen (five saves, no earned runs, 1.04 WHIP) have been borderline unhittable.

Despite that fact, the team will likely continue to be overshadowed by their gaudier NL counterparts. That doesn’t seem to bother the Tribe much, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN wrote:

As the Cleveland players and coaches doused each other with cold beverages and filled the clubhouse air with stale cigar smoke Wednesday evening, talk inevitably turned to what comes next in the aftermath of their American League Championship Series victory against Toronto. When it was suggested to second baseman Jason Kipnis that the Indians have more talent than their reputation suggests and all the “gritty gamer” talk is mere sandbagging, he took it as a personal affront. Kipnis turned to pitcher Josh Tomlin and disputed the notion that some Cleveland players might actually be good.

“I’m hitting [.167] in the postseason, and he can’t touch 90 miles an hour,” Kipnis said of Tomlin. “I don’t know what talent you’re talking about. We’re grinders. If you want guys who run fast and throw hard and can’t play the game, go find them. We’ve got baseball players on this team. We’ve got 25 guys who compete in between the lines and are having a blast doing it next to each other.”

In other words, the Tribe have embraced the underdog role. And why not? Playing baseball their way helped them roll the Red Sox and Blue Jays. Why change now?

Of course, timely hitting and excellent pitching is always a recipe for success in the postseason. The Cubs certainly experienced that fact in Games 2 and 3 of the NLCS. The Tribe earned a World Series berth due to that combination.

The Cubs, from top to bottom, are still the most talented team in this postseason. On paper, they’ll win the World Series. On the field, I believe they’ll do the same. But the Dodgers and the Tribe will certainly have something to say about that.


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