The World Series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs rolls on Saturday night from Wrigley Field with the Indians looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead following their tension-filled victory in Game 3.

Josh Tomlin, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen combined to allow just five hits as the Indians recorded their MLB-record fifth playoff shutout in a 1-0 win Friday. 

The Cubs continue to search for answers on offense after scoring a total of five runs through the first three games, all of which came in Game 2.

The Indians will send ace Corey Kluber to the mound for the second time in the series, while the Cubs will counter with the battle-tested John Lackey for his first appearance since Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on October 19.



There was never any doubt about Kluber being Cleveland’s ace during the season, but his importance to the team amplified exponentially when Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco were injured in September and consequently unable to start in the playoffs. 

Kluber has been exactly what Indians manager Terry Francona has needed through four playoff starts, including Game 1 of the World Series, when he tossed six shutout innings and had the Cubs constantly off balance. 

The 2014 AL Cy Young winner has allowed two runs and 17 hits with 29 strikeouts in 24.1 innings against the Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in October. 

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Kluber set a new World Series record in his first three innings of work on Tuesday:

Considering that the Indians will have to use Trevor Bauer on short rest in Game 5 and, if necessary, Josh Tomlin in Game 6, they can’t afford any kind of hiccup from Kluber in this spot. 

The key for Kluber, just as it was in Game 1, will be establishing his two-seam fastball on the inside part of the plate against Chicago’s left-handed hitters. 

The only real problems for the Cubs this postseason have come when they are going up against top-of-the-rotation starters. In five games started by Kluber, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, they have only scored runs in two of them. 

Against all other starting pitchers prior to Friday, the Cubs had scored a total of 43 runs in seven games.

Cleveland’s nine wins this postseason came when it scored first, which is a testament to how well the starters have fared overall and how dominant the back of the bullpen with Miller and Allen has been. 

While Miller has earned most of the accolades for his performance, including being named the American League Championship Series MVP, Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated pointed out Allen has been his equal this postseason:

If Kluber can once again provide six strong innings of work, allowing Francona to immediately ride Miller and Allen for the final four innings, the Indians will likely be happy with the final result. 

Lackey will be making his third postseason start for the Cubs. He pitched four innings in each of his first two outings, with the Cubs able to win both times, including Game 4 of the NLCS, when they were trailing 2-1 in the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

One big factor for Lackey on Saturday night will be pitching at Wrigley, the first time he’s done that this postseason. The 38-year-old was much better at the friendly confines in 2016 than he was on the road. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has already shown this postseason he won’t hesitate to pull Lackey from a game, no matter how much the right-hander might protest.

Following Lackey’s start in Game 4 of the NLCS, Maddon explained he doesn’t care how much his pitcher might yell when he decides to go the bullpen, per Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago:

You have to understand I’m dealing with some really highly charged personalities here, guys that have been there, done that. They’re good and they’re very proud men, so I respect and understand all of that. But at the end of the day, it’s about more than just one person here and what we’re trying to get done.

This will be the only game of the series in which the Indians have a decided edge on the mound, even with Kluber working on short rest. He only needed 88 pitches to get through six innings in Game 1, so it’s not as if Francona is overworking his horse. 



Because the Indians are sending their No. 1 starter up against the Cubs’ No. 4, this is a game the American League champions absolutely have to win. 

The Cubs were held in check on Friday, but their lineup is capable of putting up a lot of runs in a short amount of time. They did it against the Dodgers when they were trailing in the NLCS, scoring 23 runs in the last three games to secure a spot in the World Series. 

However, the Indians have homed in on something this postseason that’s worked against high-powered offenses in Boston and Toronto. That trend has continued in two of the three World Series games thus far.

Kluber has been virtually spotless in October, with Miller and Allen both likely available for multiple innings once again. There will be more offense from both teams, but Cleveland will find a way to come out on top.

Prediction: Indians 5, Cubs 3

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