The Cleveland Indians can complete their miracle October run with a World Series title if they can defeat the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 at Wrigley Field on Sunday night

The Indians will hand the ball to Trevor Bauer, who will be looking to redeem himself after struggling through Game 2. The right-hander lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing six hits, two walks and two runs while throwing 87 pitches in a 5-1 loss. 

The Cubs will counter with Jon Lester, who is coming off his worst start of the postseason in Game 1. He battled a tight strike zone and some erratic command while giving up three runs on six hits and two walks in 5.2 innings.



Bauer has had one of the most interesting postseasons in recent memory, though the same can be said for the Indians given the way manager Terry Francona has essentially pieced together a starting staff behind Corey Kluber. 

There’s no other way to classify Bauer’s first World Series start than bad. He was constantly shaking off catcher Roberto Perez, seemingly unsure of how he wanted to attack the Cubs and couldn’t put them away when he got to two strikes. 

Kris Bryant singled and Anthony Rizzo doubled after Bauer got to two strikes in the first inning to put the Cubs on the board, giving starter Jake Arrieta breathing room to work with. 

If one were to try putting a less negative spin on Bauer’s evening, it was his first real start since Game 1 of the division series against the Boston Red Sox. He attempted to start Game 3 of the American League Championship Series before his lacerated pinkie started pouring blood, causing him to be removed after 21 pitches. 

Speaking after Game 2, Perez told reporters he felt Bauer was affected by essentially having three weeks off between starts.

“I think so,” Perez said, per’s Andrew Marchand“Having not thrown in a week or so, I don’t know. I have confidence in him that he is going to bounce back.”

However, citing ESPN Stats & Info, Marchand noted Bauer was not coming anywhere near the strike zone with a lot of his pitches: 

More than a third of his 87 pitches were at least a foot-and-a-half off the center of the plate, which ESPN Stats & Information calls non-competitive pitches. There were 32 of them, and the Cubs were more than willing to watch them sail on by. Bauer leaned on his fastball, which the Cubs keyed in on after getting ahead in the count. 

The Cubs are the wrong team to try throwing a fastball by, which is why we have seen the Los Angeles Dodgers and Indians feed them a steady diet of offspeed pitches in the last two series.

As Clayton Kershaw found out in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, if your breaking ball isn’t going anywhere near the strike zone and you are forced to throw fastballs, the Cubs will go to town. 

This home run from Rizzo is evidence of how dangerous the Cubs can be when they can sit on the heater:

One thing the Cubs should not have to worry about on Sunday is Lester. He didn’t have his sharpest command in Game 1, but his worst inning was in the first after recording two easy outs.

The two runs Lester gave up in the opening frame came on a swinging bunt by Jose Ramirez and hitting Brandon Guyer with a pitch, so it’s not as if the Indians were scorching the ball against him. 

Any talk of the yips for Lester as it pertains to his inability to throw the ball to first with a runner on base is ludicrous, though Chicago White Sox announcer Ken Harrelson told Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune it’s a hurdle:

I feel bad for him. You look at Steve Sax or Chuck Knoblauch, they had mental blocks on throwing. One of our guys, Clayton Richard, couldn’t throw to first base.

Lester has the yips, no question. Doesn’t make him a bad guy. And I know one thing: He doesn’t have the yips throwing 60 feet, 6 inches. That’s what [Cubs manager] Joe Maddon is worried about.

Throwing to first is clearly not something Lester wants to do, but there’s no evidence his performance suffers as a result.

The Dodgers tried to distract Lester in Game 5 of the NLCS, with Enrique Hernandez dancing as far off the base as possible without trying to steal, yet he allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings. 

Lester is excellent at limiting stolen bases by being quick to the plate, and catcher David Ross is fantastic at getting rid of the ball quickly, as Mike Petriello of noted during that fifth game against the Dodgers:

Because Lester is so good at limiting baserunners anyway, his “yips” about throwing to first base rarely play a big role in the outcome. 

The Cubs have a decided advantage on the mound in Game 5, making this their game for the taking in order to send the series back to Cleveland on Tuesday. 



Nothing about this postseason has made much sense. The only discernible pattern is that scoring first essentially guarantees a victory, though that didn’t hold in Game 4, as the Indians responded with seven runs after the Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

This is the kind of game Lester was signed to pitch for the Cubs. He’s not going to be overwhelmed by the pressure of keeping his team’s season going. His postseason resume has been fantastic, with a 2.60 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 124.2 innings.

It stands to reason that, at some point, Chicago’s offense will break out of its malaise, so what better time than against the one Cleveland starting pitcher they have already gotten the better of in this series.

Prediction: Cubs 6, Indians 2

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