The Cleveland Indians have already booked their World Series flights. Now it’s up to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs to round things out and get the 2016 Fall Classic underway.

The Chicago Cubs earned a 10-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday to bring the NLCS to a 2-2 tie. John Lackey gave up two runs over four innings of work, the Cubs bullpen kept things afloat and their offense finally felt unshackled in the critical Game 4.

Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell each went deep, combining to drive in five runs to awaken the slumbering juggernaut. Rizzo drove in three runs, going deep in the fifth and smacking a single with the bases loaded in the sixth. Russell hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth, which gave Chicago a comfortable 4-0 lead.

The two teams will play Game 5 on Thursday before heading back to Chicago for Games 6 and (potentially) 7. 

Cleveland, meanwhile, took care of its final piece of business Wednesday night. Behind surprise starter Ryan Merritt and a sterling bullpen, the Indians finished off the Toronto Blue Jays with a 3-0 victory in the fifth game of the American League Championship Series.

Reliever Andrew Miller was named series MVP after adding 2.2 innings of work to his stellar postseason body. Miller has not given up a run in 11.2 innings and has gone over an inning pitched in each of his six appearances. Brought over by a midseason trade with the New York Yankees, Miller has emerged as the best setup man in baseball and an anchor next to closer Cody Allen.

Miller shared his thoughts about winning the award with Paul Hoynes of 

I don’t deserve this recognition. I don’t think anybody does. I don’t think anybody should be singled out after this series.

It’s such a special team. It’s a special organization. The way they treat us from top to bottom, it’s paid off. It’s not because of one person or one thing. It’s neat to be recognized, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is we won a game today and we’re going to the World Series and it doesn’t get any better than that.

Miller came in to help finish the job started by Merritt, one of the unlikeliest LCS starters in recent memory. The 24-year-old entered Wednesday with one career MLB start and 11 innings under his belt. He had not thrown competitively since Sept. 30 and had been a spot reliever who occasionally got called up from the minors as an injury replacement.

In finishing off the Jays, he was nothing short of great. He retired the first nine batters he faced and gave up only two hits over 4.1 innings, striking out three. Manager Terry Francona may have even erred on the side of caution pulling him after 49 pitches; it looked as if he could have gone through the order another time.

“Going into today, I told myself to have fun, enjoy the moment, don’t try to do too much, be yourself, trust in your team, trust in yourself and just go out there and compete. There was a lot of emotion, lot of nerves. Tough to sleep at night,” Merritt said, per John Telich of Fox 8.

Merritt likely didn’t get much sleep last night, but he’ll be slumbering like a baby for the next few as the Indians prepare themselves for the World Series. It’s unlikely we’ll see much or any of Merritt going forward; Trevor Bauer should be recovered enough from his drone-related injury to make his scheduled start in the rotation.

All that’s left to determine is whether it’ll be the Cubs or Dodgers making the trip to Cleveland for Game 1. The longer the series goes, the better it is for the AL champs. Los Angeles will almost certainly use Clayton Kershaw again in Game 6, while Jon Lester will also be taking another turn in the rotation. Depending on the timing of those starts, the Cubs and Dodgers could be forced to wait until Game 2 before using their aces.

No matter, Cleveland will likely walk into the Series as an underdog. Either potential NL champion poses a formidable threat. The Dodgers have been throwing money at elite players for a handful of years now in hopes of throwing together a World Series contender. They’ve come up just short in their effort.

The Cubs have been throwing together a World Series contender for, oh, let’s just say more than a century now. Theo Epstein’s plan of building a young lineup and surrounding it with a strong veteran pitching staff resulted in one of the best regular seasons in recent memory. 

The Cubs remain the overall favorite and should take care of business now that they’ve wrested home-field advantage back from Los Angeles. But either way, I’m taking the NL winner. 

Prediction: Dodgers over Indians in 7 or Cubs over Indians in 6


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