One team’s prolonged championship drought will end in the 2016 World Series, as the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians start the last leg of their playoff journeys in Game 1 on Tuesday.

The Cubs’ MLB title drought is already well-known, as the team has gone without a championship since 1908. The Cubs are making their first World Series appearance since 1945, and they’ll look to their top postseason arm to lead them to a tough road win.

On the other hand, Cleveland has not won the World Series since 1948, which is the longest drought in the American League. The Indians will also trot out an ace on Tuesday in what seems likely to be a low-scoring affair.

Let’s take a look at the schedule and preview for Game 1 of the Fall Classic.


Game 1 Preview

Jon Lester is set to take the hill for the Cubs to kick off the series, and he has been excellent during his postseason career. 

In 19 appearances—17 of them starts—Lester is 8-6 with a 2.50 ERA and a 3.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s been even better this postseason, with a 2-0 mark and a 0.86 ERA in three starts. Lester’s World Series history also suggests he should be comfortable on Tuesday night, per ESPN Stats & Info:

However, Lester’s matchup against this Indians lineup suggests his stout playoff numbers may not hold up.

Cleveland was among the best teams in the majors against left-handed pitching this season, ranking sixth overall with a .268 club average. Lester also has a shaky history against many of the current Indians:

Lester hasn’t allowed more than one run in any start this postseason, but that streak may be in jeopardy. Cleveland has shown it can hit the lefty, and it will surely be amped by the rowdy home crowd. That could result in some early offense.

Lester will still pitch well, but he could give up a few runs on Tuesday.

As for his counterpart, Corey Kluber is another formidable arm that is also dominating in these playoffs.

In three starts, the 2014 Cy Young winner is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA. Kluber put up these numbers against two of the top offenses in baseball, as the Boston Red Sox led the league in scoring this season and the Toronto Blue Jays lineup boasts some scary talent, including Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki.

Those three starts continued a trend of dominance that Kluber has enjoyed since the All-Star break. In the second half of the regular season, he was 9-1 with a 2.52 ERA. 

Thanks to its phenomenal bullpen, Cleveland has not needed many innings from its starters. But Kluber has been the exception to that, as he has a solid 18.1 innings of work this postseason. That raises the pressure on Kluber to go deeper into games to preserve the bullpen if this series goes long.

Kluber does not have much experience against the Cubs, with Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist being the only players with more than three at-bats against the Cleveland starter. In addition, Chicago has been streaky offensively this postseason, so there is little certainty as to how it will produce on Tuesday.

With both starters likely to be solid, this game could come down to the bullpen, giving Cleveland an edge. Led by Andrew Miller, the Indians have been riding their relievers to wins all postseason, as’s Jordan Bastian noted in this tweet:

It’s tough to imagine either team scoring more than a few runs in this one, given the pitching prowess both clubs present. This game could be won on a late run, and Cleveland’s odds of getting the win look to be higher than Chicago’s, given the strength of its bullpen and its AL-best 53-28 regular-season home record. Expect a close Indians win in Game 1.

Prediction: Cleveland wins, 3-2


Statistics are courtesy of unless noted otherwise.

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