In the American League, the Cleveland Indians appear ready to rock their way to the World Series for the first time in nearly two decades. In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs seem prepared for a toss-up classic.

The Indians have raced out to a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays, winning a pair of low-scoring nail-biters. Toronto’s high-powered offense has put up just one run over the first 18 innings; Cleveland had to be more than thrilled to see Josh Tomlin go 5.2 innings while giving up only a single run in Game 2.

Tomlin was not originally the scheduled starter but had his day moved up when Trevor Bauer suffered a non-baseball injury. Bauer cut his pinkie finger while working on a custom-built drone at his house Thursday. 

“Obviously you feel bad,” Bauer said, per Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal:

I want to go out and be able to make my start and help the team any way that I can. I was really looking forward to pitching on Saturday. Just one of those things, freak accident you can’t really control. And try to maintain a positive attitude the whole time. Literally I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pitch at some point in the series. I got pretty lucky.

Bauer and the Indians say he should be fine to go in Game 3. The Blue Jays will hand the ball to Marcus Stroman, who gave up two runs in six innings of work in his Wild Card Game start against the Baltimore Orioles. He did not pitch in the ALDS.

The Jays pitching staff has done its job so far. Marco Estrada gave up just two runs over a complete-game loss in Game 1, while J.A. Happ only gave up a pair of runs over his five innings of work in Game 2. Having failed to produce a run in Game 2 despite racking up seven hits, the Toronto offense has to save the series.

Jays star Jose Bautista put some of the onus onto the umpires.

“All you gotta do is look at video and count how many times [Indians pitchers have] thrown pitches over the heart of the plate,” Bautista said, per Lewis. “It hasn’t been many. They’ve been able to do that because of the circumstances that I’m not trying to talk about because I can’t. That’s for you guys to do but you guys don’t really want to talk about that either.”

The Jays appear closer than ever to missing out on a World Series berth in the ALCS for the second straight year. Bautista‘s comments likely spell out an increasing frustration from the clubhouse more than an actual indictment of the umpires.

The NLCS is much harder to predict. Clayton Kershaw once again threw the Dodgers on his back in Game 2, going seven shutout innings to outduel Kyle Kendricks in a 1-0 win. Kershaw‘s heroics flips home-field advantage to Los Angeles, which will put Rich Hill on the bump for Game 3.

Acquired in a deadline deal with the Oakland Athletics, Hill’s time as a Dodger hasn‘t gone as expected. He was limited throughout the second half of the season due to recurring blisters on his pitching hand, and the Washington Nationals lit him up for four runs in 4.1 innings in his first NLDS start. He lasted all of 2.2 innings in his second before being pulled for a relief committee in Game 5.

The Cubs will use Jake Arrieta, who has become a near-automatic win over the last few years. Arrieta‘s 2016 was his worst full season as a Cub, and he posted a 3.69 ERA after the All-Star break. But he threw six solid innings in his lone NLDS start against the San Francisco Giants—though that turned out to be Chicago’s only loss of the series.

“We can’t win all of them,” Javy Baez said, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. “We know we’re the best. We’ve got the best team out there.”

The Cubs remain the favorites to not only win the NL but the whole thing. They’re the most complete team in baseball, equipped with a great pitching staff, an elite young lineup and arguably the best manager in the sport. If it weren’t for that nonexistent curse talk—curses do not exist, people—the idea of favoring any other team would be laughable.

And it still is. Baseball’s postseason tends to be wonky, so sometimes the best overall team doesn’t win. But these Cubs have been the class of MLB since the outset, and one loss against the best pitcher in the game doesn’t make them any less of a favorite. 

World Series prediction: Cubs over Indians in 6 games

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