The Cleveland Indians are in the World Series, but they will have to keep waiting patiently to see which team they will face in the upcoming round.

While the Chicago Cubs earned a 3-2 advantage in the National League Championship Series thanks to their 8-4 Game 5 victory, the Los Angeles Dodgers still have an opportunity to win the next two games and earn a spot in the World Series.

Regardless of who survives the NLCS, fans should be treated to an outstanding final round between two great teams. Here is what to expect no matter who advances.



Indians vs. Dodgers

There are a lot of similarities between these two teams, most notably when it comes to pitching. While plenty of squads around the league have their set starters in a rotation followed by developed bullpen roles, the Indians and Dodgers don’t adhere to that plan.

Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts was forced to get creative in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals, using closer Kenley Jansen in the seventh inning before starter Clayton Kershaw closed the game on one day’s rest.

The team was forced to react to a handful of pitching injuries during the year and it is now capable of handling adversity to the staff.

Of course, the Indians know all about injuries to the rotation after losing Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and, most recently, Trevor Bauer to various injuries. Manager Terry Francona explained how this transformed his strategy in the postseason.

“When you lose two pitchers like that late, I’m not sure you can move on conventionally and cover that,” Francona said, per Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated. “So we’ve tried to not feel sorry for ourselves and figure out, okay…how do we win four games before they do?”

Francona was forced to be more aggressive than usual, but it worked out for him, as noted by Richard Justice of

Andrew Miller and Cody Allen have been nearly flawless in the postseason, and this duo is capable of stealing a win or two against a Dodgers lineup that can be inconsistent. With Corey Kluber also playing outstanding baseball with a 0.98 ERA in three starts, this pitching staff should once again be able keep the Indians winning.

On the other side, the Dodgers will still be recovering from what will have to be a seven-game series against the Cubs, meaning the rotation will not be ideal. Kershaw is as good as any starter in baseball, but he won’t be available for Game 1.

While an extended break sometimes hurts teams, Cleveland has a good enough lineup to beat the Los Angeles pitching and come through with a solid performance to win its first World Series since 1948. 

Prediction: Indians 4, Dodgers 2 


Indians vs. Cubs 

Both fan bases think these teams are following destiny to win a title, but only one of them will be left standing at the end.

While the Indians have been able to get by thanks to their bullpen, there are serious questions about the rotation behind Kluber. Josh Tomlin is inconsistent and it’s tough to know what you will get out of Ryan Merritt. While the rookie did pitch 4.1 shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays, it will be tougher against the Cubs in the World Series.

What Chicago has going for it is the depth of elite players both in the pitching staff and in the lineup. The hitters went cold for a couple of games during the NLCS, but key players have bounced back at the right time.

Kris Bryant is the likely National League MVP, but players like Addison Russell and Javier Baez are the ones turning heads in the postseason. Jayson Stark of praised the second baseman during Game 5:

With Anthony Rizzo also turning things around over the last two games, there should be a lot of confidence in this lineup.

Additionally, the starting rotation keeps coming at you with Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and even John Lackey. The last two are especially valuable thanks to their postseason experience.

Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis and others are capable of a big game here or there, but facing top talent on the mound each game is a problem. The Indians are hitting just .208 as a team in the postseason and the Cubs pitchers will make sure those bats don’t come alive.

Cleveland’s bullpen still has a clear advantage and once again Kluber has been lights out, although this won’t be enough to stop the Cubs from winning their first title since 1908.

Prediction: Cubs 4, Indians 3


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