Tag: MLB Playoffs

World Series Game 7 Betting Preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians Odds

For the second time in three years, baseball bettors will be treated to a Game 7 in the World Series, with the road team trying to win again.

This season, it will be the Chicago Cubs looking to win the World Series for the first time since 1908 as small -120 betting favorites Wednesday at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark against the Cleveland Indians.

The Tribe have home-field advantage and last won the World Series back in 1948.

The Cubs have now won two of the first three games at Cleveland following a 9-3 victory in Game 6 on Tuesday after the Indians had taken two of three in Chicago to head home with a 3-1 series lead.

In other words, there has not been much of a home-field edge for either side, and three of the past four World Series have been won on the road, including each of the last two. The San Francisco Giants last did it in a Game 7 two years ago versus the Kansas City Royals, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are the most recent team to win the World Series on the road after trailing 3-1 back in 1979.

Cleveland ace Corey Kluber will stake his claim for MVP honors as he goes for his third win in the World Series. Kluber has stifled the Cubs offensively in his previous two starts, holding them to one run and nine hits over 12 innings with one walk and 15 strikeouts.

While Kluber will be pitching on short rest for the third time in the series, the Indians did not have to use any of their top three relievers in Game 6 and will have a fresh Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen all ready to go.

Kluber will be opposed by MLB ERA leader Kyle Hendricks, who will make his first road start of the playoffs, as he has pitched much better at Wrigley Field this year. Hendricks went 7-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 16 outings away from home during the regular season but still held opponents to a .213 batting average.

Hendricks earned the clinching win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, allowing two hits in 7.1 scoreless innings.

Unlike Cleveland, though, Chicago’s bullpen will not be nearly as strong outside of possibly using starters Jon Lester and John Lackey in relief if Hendricks struggles. That’s because closer Aroldis Chapman has thrown 62 pitches in his last two appearances over three days, making his availability past one inning questionable at best after manager Joe Maddon used him in Game 6 with a five-run lead.

The over has cashed in two of the last three games of the World Series after the under went 3-0 in the first three, according to the Odds Shark MLB Database.

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Cubs vs. Indians: Game 7 Time, TV Info, Live Stream and More

It all comes down to Wednesday night, as the Chicago Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series with each team looking to end long championship droughts.

The Cubs, having not won the World Series since 1908, battled back to tie the series after being down 3-1, including a massive 9-3 road win on Tuesday night. The Indians, who have not won a world title since 1948, could not contain the Cubs in Game 6, but the team has to feel good with several big names available to take the hill in MLB‘s final game of the 2016 season.

Let us take a look at the schedule for Game 7, as well as a breakdown of this colossal showdown at Progressive Field.


Game 7 Preview

A pair of aces will square off on Wednesday as Chicago sends out Kyle Hendricks to combat Cleveland stud Corey Kluber.

Hendricks led the majors in ERA this season at 2.13, and that strong play has carried over into the playoffs. In four starts, the 26-year-old is sporting a 1.31 ERA despite a modest 1-1 record. He did not allow a run in his lone start of the series, but he was tacked for six hits in just 4.1 innings. 

The Cubs need Hendricks to put in quality work in Game 7, which would equate to about five innings and no more than two runs allowed. Chicago has plenty of arms at its disposal that will be available in the team’s final game of the year, and CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa postulated that another Cubs ace will be a major factor:

In addition to Jon Lester, the Cubs will also have John Lackey available to potentially get a few outs. This could be significant, considering Aroldis Chapman pitched four innings in the last two games. The closer has looked sensational with only two hits and a walk allowed in that span, but will fatigue be a factor if he is needed with the game on the line Wednesday? That is yet to be determined.

Regardless of how it decides on its pitching strategy, Chicago will need its best effort, as Cleveland will deploy its full arsenal of elite arms in Game 7.

Kluber is showing off elite stuff this postseason, flashing a 4-1 mark with a 0.89 ERA in five starts. He is arguably the World Series MVP at this point, allowing just nine hits and one earned run in two starts. His ERA is also historically low, per USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:

The 30-year-old will be pitching on short rest for the second time in this series, but Cleveland’s early Game 6 blowout loss should actually help take any pressure off Kluber to go deep in Game 7.

The Indians’ dominant bullpen trio of Cody Allen, Andrew Miller and Bryan Shaw should all be fully rested after getting Tuesday night off, and the three’s 2016 postseason numbers suggest Chicago needs to get runs early to have any chance of ending its World Series drought:

This unit essentially cuts the game in half, which means Cleveland only needs four to five strong innings from Kluber before letting the bullpen bring it home. So can Cleveland grab an early lead? Well, shutting down the middle of Chicago’s lineup will be a must.

Kris Bryant is 5-for-8 with two home runs and two RBI in his last two games, while Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist have combined for 11 hits and nine RBI over that span. In Chicago’s recent pair of wins, the rest of the team combined for just four hits. 

Despite the strength of that quartet, the circumstances set up too well for Cleveland.

The team relies on dominant pitching to win close, low-scoring games, and it is boasting a ridiculous amount of firepower on the mound Wednesday. Chicago erupted for nine runs in Game 6, but six of those came off Josh Tomlin, as the Cubs are still struggling to produce consistent offense, particularly against the Indians bullpen.

Expect Cleveland to generate a tight early lead, with the bullpen and rowdy home fans providing enough push to give the team a much-awaited world championship.


Statistics are courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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World Series 2016: Odds, Prop Bets, Score Prediction for Cubs vs. Indians Game 6

The Chicago Cubs have kept their season alive, but the Cleveland Indians are still one win away from clinching the 2016 World Series.

After the Cubs survived with a 3-2 victory in Game 5, Cleveland still holds a 3-2 lead and now gets to return home for the final two games (if the last one is even necessary). One good game, and the Indians can celebrate their second title for the city in the past few months.

Still, Chicago has been in rough spots before, and the team has the talent to keep things interesting heading into the final two games of the series.


World Series Game 6

When: Tuesday, Nov. 1

Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: Fox

Moneyline (via Odds Shark): Cubs (-140), Indians (+125)



Considering how much talent is in each of these lineups, neither offense has been especially impressive in this series.

While Cleveland is winning games, the squad is hitting just .236 in the series and .212 in the postseason overall. Francisco Lindor (8-for-19 this round) has been excellent, but the rest of the team has lacked the consistency you want from players of this ability.

Middle-of-the-order hitters Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli have only one RBI between them.

There simply hasn’t been much talk about the Indians offense because the Cubs have been much more disappointing. The unit has only produced 10 runs in five games, a far cry from the five runs per game this team averaged in the regular season.

With just two home runs in this stretch, there is clearly a lot of room for improvement.

On the other hand, even the Indians are aware of the team’s ability to get hot at any moment. 

“You don’t want to give lineups like that momentum, or teams to start feeling good about themselves,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said after Game 5, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “So the best thing to do is kind of put them away before they can do that.”

This puts the pressure on Game 6 starter Josh Tomlin, who is pitching on short rest but should be fine after throwing just 4.2 innings (58 pitches) in his last start. 

While the 32-year-old veteran had an up-and-down season, he has been solid in the playoffs with a 1.76 ERA in three starts. Buster Olney of ESPN noted that a tweak that led to a lot of success:

Tomlin allowed only three baserunners and zero runs in his first start against the Cubs. However, the familiarity going into the second start will be an advantage for the hitters, especially with a little more confidence from the recent win.

Chicago’s lineup won’t explode, but the team should be able to get a few runs across the plate before the bullpen comes in to make a difference.

Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta gets a chance to lead the Cubs to victory for the second time this series after winning Game 2. The reigning Cy Young award winner had one bad start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series but bounced back well with a no-hit bid into the sixth inning his last time out.

The only catch is that Chicago will need him to pitch deep into the game after Aroldis Chapman went 2.2 innings in Game 5. This shouldn’t be a problem, though, with Arrieta‘s talent and the prospect of using the rest of the offseason to recover.

As long as the offense can provide a little breathing room, the starter can do the rest and help force a Game 7.

Prediction: Cubs 3, Indians 1


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World Series 2016: Cubs vs. Indians Game 6 TV Schedule, Prediction

The dream lived on for the Chicago Cubs, as the team held on for a 3-2 win at Wrigley Field to force a Game 6. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians head back home with two chances to end a drought of their own in the 2016 World Series.

The Cubs finally mustered enough offense to earn a win, but can they build on that to tie this series on Tuesday? They will need to, as the Indians continue to get quality pitching from their rotation and their sensational bullpen.

Let us take a look at the schedule for Game 6, as well as a breakdown and prediction for the critical showdown.


Game 6 Preview 

Tuesday’s matchup features one of the game’s top pitchers against a relative unknown who emerged as a clutch performer in these playoffs.

Jake Arrieta will look to repeat his fantastic Game 2 outing, where he earned the win after going 5.2 innings and allowing two hits and one run. The 2015 Cy Young winner has dealt with inconsistency this postseason, though, as he turned in a similar performance in Game 3 of the National League Divison Series, but he was lit up for four runs in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yet, the 30-year-old is focused on his game with the intention of building on his positive outings of this postseason, per Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s JJ Stankevitz.

It’s just like any other game where you feel comfortable with the game plan and you go out there to do your best to follow through on the execution. So that’s really the only thing that I’ll be thinking about as Tuesday approaches, is just trying to be efficient. Trying to be as good as I can about moving the ball in and out, up and down and changing speeds and trying to keep those guys off balance.

Arrieta’s stellar play in his previous start is a bit surprising considering he has shaky numbers against many of Cleveland’s top batters:

Arrieta’s odds of receiving some healthy run support should increase as Chicago slugger Kyle Schwarber is set to return to the team’s lineup as a designated hitter. The 23-year-old was electric in the first two games in Cleveland, going 3-for-7 with two RBI and a pair of walks. 

Repeating that type of production will not be easy against Josh Tomlin. The Cleveland starter’s been an X-factor for the Indians with an excellent playoff run of his own, and he is also plenty locked-in for Tuesday, per MLB.com:

Tomlin turned in his best game of his postseason career in Game 3, stifling the Cubs for no runs and just two hits in 4.2 innings. However, Schwarber believes Chicago can have more success against the 32-year-old the second time around, per the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Sullivan.

“We might have expanded (the strike) zone here and there, but that’s an adjustment that can easily be made,” Schwarber said of Tomlin. “And that was a bunch of guys first time facing him, too. I’m sure (Tuesday) it’ll be a completely different situation and approach.”

Schwarber was correct in that the vast majority of his teammates had not previously faced Tomlin, and the Cubs were in a similar situation against another Cleveland starter.

Trevor Bauer had one career start against Chicago prior to the World Series, where he tossed 7.0 scoreless innings in a 2015 win. The second time around, against many of the current Cubs, Bauer was roughed up in Game 2 for six hits and two runs in 3.2 innings, which was followed by another loss where he allowed six hits and three runs in 4.0 innings. 

The Cubs have proved they can rebound against top pitchers, as it bounced back from a dominant Clayton Kershaw performance in Game 2 of the NLCS before breaking the ace in a Game 6 win. Yet, this trend has not held true with Cleveland star Corey Kluber, who is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in this World Series.

Cleveland first baseman Mike Napoli is confident his team can finish the job at home, as the Indians’ play at Wrigley Field proved the squad is generally playing winning baseball, per the Associated Press (via Fox Sports).

“We’re in good position, still,” Napoli said. “We’re up 3-2 going home. We did what we had to do here. We put ourselves in position to try and win it in a crazy atmosphere. We’re happy with what we did here. We’re going to get home and play in front of our fans.”

The Indians have been far more consistent in this series, which is why they have the edge in Game 6. Chicago’s offense has been streaky at best, as the team is averaging a mere two runs per game while being shut out twice. This makes it difficult to rely on the Cubs to produce.

Cleveland is finding a way to create early leads, which utilizes a dominant bullpen led by Andrew Miller. Behind a rowdy home crowd that will be aching to witness the team’s first World Series title since 1948, the Indians will follow this strategy once more and hold on to clinch the world title on Tuesday.

Prediction: Cleveland Wins 4-2


Statistics are courtesy of MLB.com. 

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Cubs vs. Indians: Remaining World Series 2016 Schedule and Ticket Info

The 2016 World Series is down to its final two games with both teams believing they can win their first title in decades.

While the Cleveland Indians still hold a 3-2 advantage, the Chicago Cubs have a newfound confidence after surviving with a Game 5 win. Even with their struggles offensively, this is still a squad that won 103 games during the regular season.

On the other hand, the Indians get to return home with the opportunity to win in front of their home fans.

Here is what you need to know heading into the final few games of the World Series.


Tickets: ScoreBig.com



As it often is in baseball, one of the biggest stories for the final two games of the series is the pitching matchup.

The Cubs will send Jake Arrieta to the mound for Game 6, and if they win, Kyle Hendricks will get the start in Game 7. It’s hard to imagine better options for the No. 2 and No. 3 positions in the rotation.

Arrieta is the reigning Cy Young award winner, and even in a down year still had a 3.10 ERA this season. He is also coming off a strong start in Game 2, where he allowed one run in 5.2 innings. Hendricks has been even better with a 2.13 ERA during the season and a 1.31 ERA in the playoffs.

The two pitchers have combined to allow one run in 10 innings during the World Series.

Before Cubs fans start celebrating, however, it’s important to note the team has just a 3-4 record in games started by this tandem in the postseason. Even if these pitchers perform to their ability, the offense needs to live up to its end of the bargain.

Brad Evans of Yahoo Sports provided this analysis after Game 4:

The offense came alive for a brief moment in Game 5, using a three-run third inning to secure a win. However, these were the only runs of the game. Chicago has only 10 runs in five games, half of them against Trevor Bauer, who they are unlikely to see again in the series.

Instead, Cleveland will use Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber for Game 6 and 7 (if necessary), two pitchers who have had a lot of success so far this postseason.

While both are going to pitch on short rest, Tomlin only threw 4.2 innings in his last start and 58 total pitches. Kluber was limited to only 81 pitches in Game 4 and 88 pitches in Game 1. Both should be able to come in with maximum effort, especially considering they have all offseason to rest up afterwards.

Considering the bullpen has only allowed three earned runs in 19.2 innings this series, there should be plenty of confidence in the pitching staff for Cleveland.

This once again puts the pressure on the Cubs offense to wake up. The talent is there, with MVP favorite Kris Bryant as well as Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and plenty more. Unfortunately, Ben Zobrist is the only one consistently producing in this round. Outside of Zobrist, the Cubs are hitting .189 as a team in the World Series.

Despite the struggles, there is still plenty of confidence in the clubhouse heading into the final two games.

“We’re making history,” Addison Russell said, per Jayson Stark of ESPN. “So why stop? This is entertaining to us. It’s fun. And we live for this. We see a lot of challenges ahead of us, and we embrace them.”


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World Series Game 6 Betting Preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians Odds

The Chicago Cubs staved off elimination with a 3-2 victory against the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday, and they enter Game 6 on Tuesday as solid minus-143 road favorites (bet $143 to win $100) at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark with Jake Arrieta on the mound.

Arrieta also pitched in Game 2 at Cleveland, allowing two hits and one run in 5.2 innings of a 5-1 win while walking three and striking out six.

The Cubs still trail the Indians 3-2 in the series but saw closer Aroldis Chapman come through in relief to earn a huge save in Game 5, as he got eight outs to protect the lead for winner Jon Lester.

However, Cleveland remains a big favorite to win the World Series with potentially two games left at home and a rested Andrew Miller in the bullpen.

Chapman threw 42 pitches over 2.2 innings, allowing one hit with no walks and four strikeouts Sunday. His availability for Game 6 is up in the air, while Miller has not made an appearance since throwing two innings during a 7-2 win in Game 4 on Saturday.

The bullpens for each team will likely play a key role in the outcome of the World Series, although the Game 6 starters also figure to be a deciding factor. Arrieta has made all three of his postseason starts on the road, with the first two resulting in losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.

The Indians will send Josh Tomlin to the mound off a brilliant outing in Game 3, when he allowed only two hits in 4.2 innings of a 1-0 victory with one walk and one strikeout. They have won all three of Tomlin’s starts in the playoffs despite the fact that he has yet to go a full six innings in any of them.

Tomlin was 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 15 appearances at Progressive Field during the regular season as opposing batters hit .283 against him.

Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber will return to DH in Cleveland after pinch hitting just once at Wrigley Field in Game 3. Schwarber went 3-for-7 in Games 1 and 2 with a double and two RBI.

The total has gone under in four of the first five games, according to the Odds Shark MLB database, with the Cubs closing as favorites in each of the last four.

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World Series 2016 Schedule: TV Coverage Info and Predictions for Rest of Series

Despite doomsday feelings from plenty of fans, the World Series isn’t over quite yet.

The Chicago Cubs bounced back from consecutive home losses to win Game 5, extending the series for at least another game. The Cleveland Indians now have a chance to win it all at home, although their confidence might be wavering a bit.

Of course, the pressure is still on the Cubs to win two more games if they want to win a title for the first time since 1908.

The drama will only pick up in the coming days, so make sure you don’t miss the last two games of the year. 



The Cubs offense finally came alive Sunday, even if it was for just one inning. Kris Bryant got the scoring going with a solo home run in the third inning, which was followed by runs by Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist.

With a solid start by Jon Lester and a heroic eight-out save by Aroldis Chapman, this was enough for Chicago to escape with a 3-2 win.

Indians manager Terry Francona summed up the closer’s performance in an interesting way, per Buster Olney of ESPN:

However, the offense will have to do more if it wants to win more games. The Cubs still haven’t found a way to solve Cleveland’s bullpen, and Andrew Miller didn’t even pitch in Game 5.

There is obvious talent on the roster, but except for Zobrist, players haven’t been able to string together hits. This needs to change with an upcoming battle against Josh Tomlin.

Although Tomlin lasted only 4.2 innings in Game 3, he didn’t allow a run and gave up only two hits with a walk while on the mound. Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen then helped close out the shutout.

Chicago hasn’t proved it can get much going against the bullpen, so it needs to be aggressive early to score against Tomlin pitching on short rest.

One thing the Cubs should feel good about is the starters over the next two games. Jake Arrieta is set to pitch on full rest, with Kyle Hendricks following him in Game 7 if necessary.

After Lester did his job in Game 5, these two pitchers are all anyone could hope for as second and third options. Ted Keith of Sports Illustrated provided this interesting statistic to keep Cubs fans excited:

Although neither pitcher has been able to go deep into games as often as the coaching staff would probably like, they have kept opponents off the board for much of the postseason. In the World Series, Arrieta and Hendricks have combined for 10 innings with just one run allowed.

Arrieta especially has the experience and confidence necessary to pitch a big road game and shut down a talented Cleveland lineup.

On the other hand, the Indians still have their ace in the hole in the form of Corey Kluber. He has pitched twice already in this series, allowing just one run in 12 innings. In five postseason starts, the 30-year-old pitcher has an ERA of just 0.89.

Most importantly, Francona has kept him from overexerting himself, as he threw only 88 pitches in Game 1 and 81 in Game 4. Even though he will be pitching on three days’ rest for the second time in a row, he should have plenty of energy to give everything he can in Game 7.

Adding this to a superior bullpen led by Miller and Allen, both of whom are likely willing to go as far as necessary to seal the win, the Indians will have the pitching advantage in the final game if it gets to that point.

Look for the Cubs offense to lead the way in a Game 6 victory before the Indians halt the momentum with a dramatic win in Game 7.

Predicted finish: Cleveland wins series 4-3.


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World Series 2016: Odds and Predictions for Indians vs. Cubs Game 5

The Indians are on the precipice of the seemingly impossible: bringing a second championship to Cleveland in the span of four months.

(OK, Cleveland Monsters faithful—third championship to Cleveland.)

Behind some surprisingly brilliant pitching and clutch hitting, the Indians have taken each of the first two games in Chicago and can wrap up the 2016 World Series later Sunday night with a win in Game 5. The Indians will hand the ball to Trevor Bauer, the only Cleveland pitcher to take a loss so far in this series.

Bauer has had a difficult go during the playoffs, injuring his pinkie finger while fixing his custom drone and struggling with his effectiveness. He had trouble finding his location despite being give a clean bill of health in Game 2, and some fans have clamored for Bauer to be replaced by Ryan Merritt—the unlikely hero for Cleveland in the ALCS.

“Ryan did a really good job in his game in Toronto, but Trevor’s been a really good pitcher for us for four years,” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters. “If we thought that the finger was getting in the way, I understand it. But he’s come so far and battled this thing so much that I think his better game is ahead of him.”

The Cubs will hand the ball to Jon Lester, who gave up three runs in 5.2 innings and took the loss in Game 1. The Indians had a field day running on Lester and will likely look to do the same Sunday. Throwing to first base has become a nonstarter for Lester, and the Cubs have to contend with his inability to check runners every start. 

Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz spoke to Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune about Lester’s issues:

It’s a sick feeling. No one wants to say the “y-word” [yips] or the “s-word” [shank] in golf. I’m not a believer that one day you wake up and mentally you can’t make a two-foot putt. You lose the mechanic, the feel and then your brain tells you that you have to fix it and think about it. And the more you think about it, the worse it gets. So I commend Jon. The Cubs have a plan.

Despite Lester’s struggles, the Cubs are heavy favorites for a win. Odds Shark has them listed at -210, and some sports books have them listed as -235—meaning you would have to spend $235 to have the chance to win $100.

“We’re confident, especially how we won in this very tough game,” Indians star Carlos Santana told reporters after Game 4. “Lester, he’s throwing very good baseball. He has experience in the World Series. … But we’re fine. We’ll worry about tomorrow and try to win the game.”

It seems unlikely that the Cubs would lose three straight home games, but they were heavy favorites coming into the series. Their bats have gone almost completely silent against an Indians rotation that looked like a weakness heading into the postseason. Kris Bryant has one hit the entire series, Addison Russell has just two and the Cubs lineup has been held to two or fewer runs in three of the four games.

“We’re all trying to hit a grand slam with nobody on,” catcher Miguel Montero said, per Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “It’s not gonna happen. We need to be a little more patient at the plate, play a little small ball. We’re all trying to hit the ball 110 miles an hour off the bat—no. We need to get a ground ball through the hole. Simple as that.”

Logic says the Cubs win. Bauer’s recent performance suggests the Cubs have a good shot. On paper, the Cubs should be on the precipice of pulling away with this series.

But they’re not. The Indians have defied logic the entire way to be within one game of taking home their first championship since 1947. Let’s just go with gut feelings and keep riding the wave.

Indians close it out later tonight.

Score prediction: Indians 4, Cubs 2

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World Series 2016: Odds, Prop Bets, Score Prediction for Indians vs. Cubs Game 4

The Cleveland Indians grabbed a 2-1 lead in the World Series on Friday night with a dramatic 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. The win also restored the home-field advantage the American League champions had lost by dropping Game 2 at Progressive Field.

Now the pressure rests squarely on the Cubs’ shoulders heading into Saturday’s Game 4. A 3-1 series lead for a team with Cleveland’s pitching, especially its shutdown bullpen, would feel like an insurmountable advantage with two home games looming for the Indians, if necessary.

With that in mind, let’s check out all of the important information for Saturday’s contest. That’s followed by a look at the odds, along with a preview and prediction for Game 4.


Game 4 Viewing Details

Where: Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois

When: Saturday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go


Odds Information



The managers are utilizing different pitching tactics for Game 4.

Cleveland’s Terry Francona is turning back to his ace, Corey Kluber, on short rest with hope the Indians can take a commanding lead. The 2014 Cy Young Award winner pitched six shutout innings with nine strikeouts in the team’s Game 1 victory.

Chicago’s Joe Maddon is sticking with a four-man rotation, which means John Lackey will take the ball Saturday night for the Cubs. While it’s a risky move in a 2-1 hole, it means he’d have Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks lined up on normal rest to finish the series.

Lackey has struggled in the postseason, giving up five earned runs while allowing 10 hits and five walks in eight innings against the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. He’ll likely be looking at a quick hook if he can’t settle into a rhythm early.

The other concern for Chicago is dealing with the emotion. The atmosphere at Wrigley Field for Game 3 was predictably special, as the long-tortured fanbase finally got an opportunity to see the Cubs play a World Series game after a 71-year absence.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times passed along postgame comments from catcher Willson Contreras, who admitted the situation caused the team to press too hard to make a big play.

“We were so anxious to win this game that we tried to do too much,” Contreras said. “We were first-pitch swinging. We didn’t see a lot of pitches. We were trying to do too much to [Indians starter Josh] Tomlin, and he made the right pitch in the right spots.”

Meanwhile, the Indians don’t mind Chicago hogging the spotlight. The star-studded Cubs came into the series as the favorite after a dominant regular season and, given the difference in market size, it’s no surprise they garnered most of the attention.

Add in the fact Cleveland has been playing without two key pieces—outfielder Michael Brantley and starter Carlos Carrasco—just reaching the World Series was a major accomplishment. Beating the Cubs without them seemed like a massive uphill battle.

Jordan Bastian and Carrie Muskat of MLB.com provided remarks from Tomlin after the Game 3 win concerning the lack of outside interest.

“I think we’ve been an afterthought all year long,” Tomlin said. “It doesn’t bother us. We know we have a group of guys who grind it out and try to play the game we know how to play and don’t listen to anybody else.”

They are just two victories away from bringing another championship to Cleveland after the Cavaliers’ NBA title triumph earlier in the year. It’s no shock they want the narrative to remain the same.

Hope is far from lost for the Cubs, though. Jon Hansen of WGN Radio pointed out they found themselves in the same situation in the NLCS before storming back to beat the Dodgers:

All told, between Kluber working on short rest and Andrew Miller pitching an inning and a third Friday, there should be an opportunity for the Cubs offense to score runs in the middle innings. Those frames will likely decide whether they level the series or find themselves in must-win mode for Game 5.

Prediction: 5-4 Cubs


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Indians vs. Cubs Live-Stream Schedule, Odds and Pre-Game 4 Comments

The Cleveland Indians took a critical 2-1 series lead Friday night in the 2016 World Series over the Chicago Cubs, and the road team now has a chance to take a commanding advantage Saturday night in Game 4 at Wrigley Field.

In a tight pitching affair, Josh Tomlin allowed only two hits through 4.2 innings, and the dynamite bullpen combination of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen held down the fort for a 1-0 Cleveland win. Meanwhile, Chicago’s streaky offense made its presence felt again, as the team was shut out for the fourth time this postseason.

Here is a look at the full viewing schedule, including live stream, in addition to odds and some notable comments from both teams ahead of Saturday’s showdown.

Odds are according to Odds Shark.

Corey Kluber will take the mound Saturday looking to lift Cleveland with a repeat of his dominant Game 1 performance. In a 6-0 win, the Indians ace was nearly flawless in six innings while allowing no runs and four hits.

The movement of his sinker—which is especially difficult for right-handed hitters, as it ties them up at their hands to force easy grounders—was working at full force to frustrate the Chicago lineup. Anthony Rizzo elaborated on the pitch’s effectiveness after Game 1, per MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.

“It just starts at your hip,” Rizzo said of the pitch. “And it comes in at you and then he can cut it off of that, too. … It’s just really picking a lane.”

There could be more of that sort of frustration coming for Chicago, as Kluber has been locked in during this postseason. In four starts, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner is 3-1 with a microscopic 0.74 ERA. Kluber had never pitched in the playoffs before his current campaign, and he attributes his success so far to elevated focus, per Castrovince.

“Not that there is less importance on a regular-season game,” said Kluber, “but it’s almost like you have that extra level of intensity or focus and stuff that it’s not really something you can replicate.”

Chicago proved this postseason it can rebound against top pitchers the second time around.

In the National League Championship Series, Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw owned the Cubs in Game 2 with seven innings of work while allowing no runs, two hits and one walk. In Game 6, Chicago was much better; Kershaw allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, as the Cubs were able to advance to the World Series.

Can Chicago replicate this success against Kluber? Well, it may need to find a way to get Kyle Schwarber involved. At this point, though, it seems Schwarber will not be available for multiple at-bats in any game at Wrigley Field:

He can make an impact as a pinch hitter and as a presence in the dugout, as Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said the team views his bat and character as his greatest assets, per Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci:

His bat and his intangibles are why we drafted him. He’s a complete impact hitter with the bat, but more than that he’s the perfect player to have as a franchise player because he can be one of your best players who everybody else wants to follow because of his character. He’s a special player and a special person.

Schwarber popped out in his lone pinch-hit effort in Game 3. Chicago’s lineup lacked some of the swagger Friday that it had when Schwarber was in the lineup for Games 1 and 2, as it only totaled five hits, so it will need to find another source of offense if Schwarber continues to start on the bench.

The uncertainty around Chicago’s offense puts some extra pressure to perform on John Lackey, who will start Game 4 for the Cubs. The 38-year-old has plenty of playoff experience, but his starts this postseason have been very spread out, as he noted Friday, per the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Skrbina.

“It has been kind of a crazy schedule for me,” Lackey said. “I feel like I’m pitching every two weeks kind of deal. Once you get into the game you kind of fall back on things you’ve been doing all season, and hopefully you execute.”

Lackey has not pitched since Oct. 19, when he tossed four innings with two runs and three hits allowed in a no-decision that resulted in a 10-2 win. His only other start came Oct. 11, when Lackey also went four innings in a no-decision.

However, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is still confident he can get a quality outing out of Lackey in a critical ballgame, per Skrbina:

I just want to believe that he keeps getting stronger. But there is a certain amount of rust element involved. However, I have a lot of faith in John, and I know he’s going to be ready. I never worry about him, man. He has been there, done that, and I know he’ll be ready for (Saturday).

Lackey’s history against the current Cleveland roster suggests he should do fine Saturday, as most of the Indians have struggled against the righty:

Given Lackey’s track record this postseason, the Cubs should not expect more than five innings from their starter. This could be troubling considering the fact Chicago has not generated any consistent offense and that it will be going against an ace in Kluber.

The Indians already proved they can win at Wrigley Field, and they should be favored in this one. However, the Cubs cannot be counted out just yet, as the team responded to a two-game scoreless streak against the Dodgers with 23 combined runs in the next three contests. Chicago has the ability to explode offensively; it just remains to be seen if it can do so against Kluber.


Statistics are courtesy of MLB.com.

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