The complexion of both the ALCS and NLCS changed significantly Tuesday, as the Toronto Blue Jays staved off elimination and the Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-1 lead over the Chicago Cubs.  

Toronto is still in trouble as it faces a 3-1 deficit, but injury woes have the Cleveland Indians reeling. And while the NLCS could still go either way, pressure is mounting for the Cubbies after many years of playoff failures.

With the World Series quickly approaching, here is a full rundown of the remaining championship series schedule, as well as predictions for which teams will prevail in each series.


LCS Schedule


ALCS Predictions

The Indians had a great opportunity to put the Blue Jays away Tuesday in Game 4 with Corey Kluber on the mound, but Cleveland’s ace was outdueled by Aaron Sanchez, and Toronto’s bats finally came to life in a 5-1 triumph.

Toronto lived to fight another day, and it seemingly has the advantage in Game 5, as it will send Marco Estrada to the mound to take on Indians rookie Ryan Merritt.

The 24-year-old Merritt has just one career MLB start to his credit, but with a career ERA of 3.39 in the minors, he has a solid track record.

Even so, Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista seems unconcerned about the challenges the lefty could present, according to’s Alykhan K. Ravjiani:

Toronto also has another factor on its side entering Game 5, as it has proven difficult to oust in the playoffs at Rogers Centre, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Most signs point toward the Jays winning at home and sending the series back to Cleveland, and while that will shift much of the pressure toward the Indians, there is a lot to like about how their rotation is set up.

Kluber figures to be available for a potential Game 7, but they may not need him due to how well Josh Tomlin has performed since the start of September.

Tomlin allowed just three hits and one run in 5.2 innings against the Blue Jays in Game 2, and as pointed out by the Indians’ official Twitter account, he is currently in the midst of a remarkable hot streak:

Neither team has swung the bats particularly well during the series, but Cleveland has been better in terms of coming up with timely hits in big situations.

The biggest key for the Indians will be grabbing a lead in one of the next three games and taking it into the fifth or sixth inning, which would then allow them to put the game in the hands of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

Tomlin’s recent form suggests he can help them keep a lead in Game 6, and that should allow them to move on to the World Series for the first time in nearly two decades.

Prediction: Indians in six


NLCS Predictions

The Cubs were the best team in baseball all season long, as their 103-58 record suggests, but after getting locked down by Rich Hill in Game 3 of the NLCS, they suddenly trail the Dodgers, 2-1.

Chicago’s bats have gone stagnant over the past two contests, earning Joe Maddon‘s team a dubious distinction that it would undoubtedly like to shake with a better performance in Game 4:

Game 4 will be a pivotal tilt since it could either push the Cubs to the brink of elimination or swing the momentum firmly back in their favor.

Chicago may have the perfect person on the mound for such a high-pressure situation, as 37-year-old veteran John Lackey will toe the rubber against 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias.

Lackey has 21 career postseason starts under his belt with a record of 8-5 and a 3.22 ERA. He has twice won the World Series, and he even started a World Series Game 7 with the Los Angeles Angels as a rookie in 2002.

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon believes Lackey has what it takes to help the Cubs erase their current series deficit:

Lackey struggled in his NLDS start against the San Francisco Giants, allowing seven hits, two walks and three runs in four innings, but Maddon feels he is prepared to deliver a strong outing in Game 4 of the NLCS.

“I think he’s still building up his arm strength. The last game in San Francisco, the velocity was pretty good. He probably wasn’t as sharp location-wise, but his stuff is absolutely there. I know he’s going to be ready for the moment,” Maddon told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

The Cubs have the advantage in Game 4 and figure to prevail thanks to Lackey’s veteran savvy, but things become more uncertain beyond that.

Los Angeles could deploy Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 or 6, however, the Cubs will have the advantage in the game Kershaw doesn’t pitch since struggling rookie Kenta Maeda figures to take the mound.

The current flow of the series suggests a Game 7 is very possible, and it would likely lead to a rematch of Game 3 between Hill and Jake Arrieta.

Although Arrieta faltered in Game 3, the 2015 Cy Young Award winner will turn it around at Wrigley Field and punch Chicago’s ticket to the World Series.

Prediction: Cubs in seven


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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