No matter the result, the 2016 World Series will provide salvation for one of the most cursed teams in Major League Baseball.

The Cleveland Indians are seeking their first title since 1948, while the Chicago Cubs have famously gone more than a century since their last World Series triumph (1908). The series begins Tuesday night in Cleveland.

When: Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Game 1 is as much of a must-win scenario for the Indians as any opening game of a postseason series can be. If Cleveland loses with its ace on the mound, then it could be in trouble. Only once in the last 10 years—the 2009 New York Yankees—did a team fall in the series opener before going on to win it all.

Corey Kluber has been excellent in his first postseason, allowing two earned runs in 18.1 innings. He has also struck out 13 batters and walked four.

Beyond Kluber, the Indians’ starting rotation is a major question mark. While Josh Tomlin has pitched well in his two playoff starts, it doesn’t erase a regular season in which he posted a 4.88 FIP, per Trevor Bauer, meanwhile, made it through 0.2 innings in the American League Championship Series before his pinkie injury forced him to exit:

In Game 4, Indians manager Terry Francona will either have to start Kluber on short rest or rely on Ryan Merritt, who pitched well in the ALCS but has just five MLB appearances under his belt.

Losing Game 1 wouldn’t be a crippling blow for the Indians since this is a seven-game series. A defeat Tuesday night would, however, put more pressure on Tomlin and Bauer, which Francona will want to avoid.

The key for the Cubs in Game 1—and the World Series as a whole—will be getting out to an early lead. The last thing Chicago will want to see is Francona giving the ball to Andrew Miller in the fifth or sixth inning with Cleveland ahead.

Miller’s stat line from the ALCS is ridiculous, courtesy of’s Richard Justice:

The Cubs have the offense to put a dent in the Indians rotation, especially after Anthony Rizzo broke out of his slump toward the end of the National League Championship Series. In his first seven playoff games this year, the All-Star first baseman was 2-for-26 at the plate. He went 7-of-14 in the last three NLCS games.

Cleveland will also have to silence the bats of Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, who are batting a combined .338 in the postseason with two home runs and 13 runs batted in. The playoffs have been a coming-out party for Baez in particular.

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks had strong words of praise for the 23-year-old second baseman, per CSN Chicago’s JJ Stankevitz: “He’s the most natural baseball player I’ve ever seen play the game. His instincts in game are just top notch. And that was another play today that was huge. The first guy getting on, to make that play and turn that double play set such a tone for the game.”

From top to bottom, the Cubs are the stronger team in the World Series. Team president Theo Epstein built Chicago’s core around talented young prospects like Baez and Bryant and supplemented the team’s promising stars with ready-made veterans when the Cubs were ready to contend.

That’s not to diminish the work of former team president Mark Shapiro and current president Chris Antonetti in Cleveland, but the Indians simply haven’t had the resources afforded to their World Series opponents.

In addition, the Indians’ greatest strength during the regular season—their starting rotation—has been decimated by injuries.’s Jordan Bastian reported Cleveland will have Danny Salazar for the Fall Classic after missing the American League Division Series and ALCS, but he’ll be on a tight pitch limit.

The Indians will be underdogs, and in the event they fall in Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night, it could be a short series.

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