The 2016 World Series could be set on Saturday night with the Chicago Cubs looking for their first berth in the Fall Classic since 1945 with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

While the two National League teams continue to duke it out, the American League champion Cleveland Indians patiently wait to know who their opponent will be when the best-of-seven series kicks off on Tuesday from Progressive Field. 

Cleveland has already had a year to remember with the Cavaliers winning their first NBA title in June. The Indians will look to join them and end their own 67-year championship drought. 


2016 World Series Schedule


Player to Watch: Andrew Miller

Baseball is a sport designed to make it nearly impossible for one player to carry his team in a way that can happen in the NBA or NFL. 

While Andrew Miller needed help from the Cleveland starting staff to put the team in a position to use him to protect a lead, he has been operating at a video-game level throughout this postseason, with Jared Carrabis of Barstool Sports providing the statistical evidence:

It’s fun to see those numbers, but they somehow look more impressive when you are able to see the weapons Miller is using to destroy hitters. 

This is what Miller did in the seventh inning of Game 2 against the Toronto Blue Jays, via

If the Dodgers end up coming back to defeat the Cubs in the NLCS, good luck to them trying to attack Miller. 

It’s no secret that Los Angeles’ lineup has had problems against left-handed pitching in 2016. The group had a collective .213/.290/.332 slash line versus southpaws, per

Things are so bad for the Dodgers against lefties they had Carlos Ruiz hit in the cleanup spot against Jon Lester in Game 5 of the NLCS with the hopes he could provide a spark. 

The Cubs would be an interesting matchup for Miller because they were dynamite against left-handed pitching this season with an .807 OPS, per

Miller has been an immovable object in his playoff career with six hits and three walks allowed with 31 strikeouts in 20 innings. 

Cleveland’s starting pitching depth was a question entering the postseason. Corey Kluber has been terrific in his first postseason with a 0.98 ERA, 20 strikeouts, 13 hits allowed and seven walks in 18.1 innings. 

But Indians manager Terry Francona has not had anyone else in his rotation make it through the sixth inning. His bullpen is deep enough to get by with starters who go four or five innings, but someone in the rotation not named Kluber will need one strong start if Cleveland is going to win the World Series. 

It also helps Miller succeed because the longer a starter goes, the fewer outs Francona has to bridge before he can just use Miller and Cody Allen to record nine outs. 


Better Matchup for Cleveland

As mentioned above, the Dodgers would serve as a more favorable matchup for the Indians in the World Series. 

Beyond the Miller factor, Andrew Simon of noted how Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts could be in a bind with his rotation if the Dodgers win their next two games:

Los Angeles opted not to push ace Clayton Kershaw into another short-rest outing in NLCS Game 5, instead starting Kenta Maedaand slotting Kershaw in for Game 6 at Wrigley Field. That means that while the Indians will have time to align their starting rotation any way they choose for the Fall Classic—presumably with Corey Kluber at the front—the Dodgers wouldn’t be able to go to Kershaw until Game 2 on short rest or Game 3 on regular rest.

The Dodgers would also turn to Rich Hill against the Cubs in a potential seventh game, so Cleveland could avoid their two best pitchers until Games 3 and 4. 

In case you didn’t know based on the current NLCS results, Kershaw, Hill and Kenley Jansen have been the only things slowing down the Cubs, per Rany Jazayerli:

That won’t necessarily be the case for the Cubs if they are to play the Indians, because Francona can turn to Miller or Allen in the later innings, whereas Roberts has been throwing out Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez. 

But another obstacle for the Indians is that Cubs manager Joe Maddon has a deep rotation he can utilize however he wants. Jon Lester is on track to start Game 1 if they advance, while Jake Arrieta would presumably go in Game 2 and Kyle Hendricks, who will start against the Dodgers Saturday night, in Game 3. 

The Indians do have the luxury of home-field advantage in the series, which is not insignificant. They have yet to lose at Progressive Field in the playoffs and are tied for the AL’s best home record at 53-28. The Cubs were a modest 46-34 on the road compared to their MLB-high 57 home wins. 

The Dodgers were just 38-43 on the road during the regular season, though they have won three of their first five games away from Los Angeles in the postseason. 

It’s hardly a secret that the Cubs were the league’s best team in 2016. They were one of three teams to score at least 800 runs and led the league with a 3.15 ERA and defensive runs saved, per FanGraphs.

Nothing is ever guaranteed in a short series—few people were predicting Cleveland to get past the Boston Red Sox in the division series, let alone make it to the World Series—but the Indians’ simpler route to a title would go through Los Angeles. 

Of course, given the injuries Cleveland has overcome this season and in the playoffs to even reach this point, difficult tasks don’t seem to phase this team. 

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