Tag: MLB Playoffs

World Series Game 3 Betting Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs Odds

All the betting trends seemed to be on the side of the Cleveland Indians after they won Game 1 of the World Series in a 6-0 rout Tuesday.

But the Chicago Cubs returned the favor in Game 2 with a 5-1 victory. They find themselves as large -200 favorites Friday (wager $200 to win $100) at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark in Game 3 at Wrigley Field, in part because they have the best home pitcher in baseball taking the mound for them.

Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks (game log) not only had the lowest ERA in MLB overall this year at 2.13, but he was also unreal at home with a 9-2 mark and 1.32 ERA in 15 games. Last season, he was 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 15 games at Wrigley Field, showing what a big difference a year can make.

In fact, the emergence of Hendricks, improvement of Jon Lester and addition of John Lackey alongside Game 2 winner Jake Arrieta made the team’s four-man starting rotation the best in the big leagues.

Cleveland is not so lucky, as it depends more on an outstanding bullpen and ace Corey Kluber, who shut down the Cubs in Game 1 and is scheduled to start again on short rest Saturday in Game 4 at Wrigley.

In Game 3, the Indians will be sending Josh Tomlin (game log) to the hill following two solid postseason outings against the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. Tomlin went 2-0 in those games with a 2.53 ERA, allowing three runs and seven hits in 10.2 innings with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

During the regular season, Tomlin was 8-4 in 15 road starts with a 4.31 ERA, and opposing batters hit .257 against him.

Tomlin will not have to worry about facing Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber, who was not medically cleared to play in the outfield after going 3-for-7 with a double and two RBI as the designated hitter in the first two games at Cleveland.

The Indians have won six of their last seven games at National League ballparks in interleague play after dropping eight of 11. The over has gone 9-5-1 in their past 15 interleague road games, and the under has cashed in the first two games of the World Series.

Chicago heads into Game 3 as the -225 favorite on the updated World Series odds.

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World Series Schedule: TV Info and Live Stream for Indians vs. Cubs Game 3

The 2016 World Series became all knotted up Wednesday, as the Chicago Cubs were able to steal a road win over the Cleveland Indians.

After Cleveland shut out Chicago 6-0 in Game 1, the Cubs returned the favor in Game 2 with a 5-1 win behind stout performances from Jake Arrieta and Kyle Schwarber. Now the series shifts for a three-game set in Chicago, as the Cubs have a chance to grab a lead at home.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the television and live-stream schedule for Game 3, in addition to a preview of the critical showdown.

Game 3 Preview

Not only was Game 2 important for the Cubs in terms of tying the series, but it also put the team in position to take advantage of a nice pitching matchup on Friday with a series lead on the line.

Chicago will trot out Kyle Hendricks, who became one of the best pitchers in baseball this season in a loaded Cubs rotation. The 26-year-old led the majors with a 2.13 ERA, and he has been excellent this postseason with just three earned runs allowed in 16.1 innings.

Hendricks was much better at home this season than on the road. He went 9-2 with a sparkling 1.32 ERA at Wrigley Field compared to a 7-6 mark on the road, which was the best in baseball, per CSN Chicago’s Christopher Kamka:

However, we don’t know how Hendricks will handle Cleveland’s lineup, since he has practically no experience against the current roster. He has faced only Marlon Byrd and Coco Crisp, and since Byrd has not been a playoff contributor, the only relevant comparison is with Crisp, who is 0-for-3 against Hendricks.

The Cy Young candidate should have plenty of confidence, as he proved he can win on the big stage in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. With a trip to the World Series on the line, Hendricks was sensational with two hits and no runs allowed in 7.1 innings. That garnered praise from his potential MVP teammate, per ESPN.com’s Bradford Doolittle.

“That’s the best pitching performance I’ve seen,” Kris Bryant said after Game 6. “Just throwing exactly where he wants to. Soft contact. He’s certainly the unsung hero of this team.”

Cleveland will counter with Josh Tomlin, who was solid this season with a 13-9 record and 4.40 ERA.

With Danny Salazar just coming back from injury and Carlos Carrasco out, Tomlin was thrust into the playoff rotation and has responded well. Though he has only 10.2 innings pitched in two starts, he is 2-0 with a stout 2.53 ERA with only three walks allowed. 

Indians manager Terry Francona seems to have plenty of trust in Tomlin, as the 32-year-old is expected to receive multiple starts in this series, per Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller:

Both of those starts will come at Wrigley Field, and as opposed to Hendricks, Tomlin actually performed better on the road this season than in Cleveland. He went 8-4 with a 4.31 ERA on the road compared to 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA at home.

Tomlin also has little experience against this current Cubs roster, having faced only Miguel Montero, David Ross and Ben Zobrist. In 19 career at-bats, Zobrist has just two hits off Tomlin.

It looks like the difference in Game 3 will be which team can get runners in scoring position. On the season, Hendricks was excellent in this situation, surrendering just a .178 opposing batting average in 33.2 innings pitched. On the other hand, Tomlin struggled with a .287 opposing average in 29.2 innings. He also allowed 49 earned runs to Hendricks’ 29.

Through two games this series, Chicago has been able to get in this position more often than Cleveland has, but the Cubs are converting at a less efficient rate. They are 4-for-23 combined with runners in scoring position, while the Indians are 2-for-13.

Given that the Cubs are generating more baserunners in scoring position, they should feel good going up against Tomlin. There will also be a ton of energy in Wrigley Field, as Chicago is playing its first World Series game in the stadium since 1945.

This should give Chicago an edge in Game 3, especially if Hendricks continues to pitch well. Cleveland could have a chance to hold off the home team if it can get a lead after about five innings of work from Tomlin, but that may be a lot to ask for.


Statistics are courtesy of MLB.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

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World Series 2016 Schedule: Updated TV, Live-Stream Coverage Guide

The Chicago Cubs bounced back from an abysmal Game 1 performance to beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Wednesday, leveling the 2016 World Series 1-1 as it heads to Wrigley Field.

Earning a road win is critical for both teams, as each was among the best in the majors while playing at home. Cleveland was tied for the top home record in the American League with the Texas Rangers at 53-28, while the Cubs led MLB at 57-24. Chicago did its part in stealing a road victory, so now the Indians will have to do the same to stay alive in the Fall Classic.

With two games in the books, let’s take a look at the updated television and live-stream schedules for the rest of the 2016 World Series.

After Cleveland took the series opener with great pitching and timely hitting, the roles seemed to reverse Wednesday night. 

Jake Arrieta nearly matched Corey Kluber’s performance in the previous game, with the Chicago starter going 5.2 innings while allowing only two hits and one run. Kluber may have been slightly better in Game 1, going 6.0 innings with four hits and no runs allowed, but Arrieta got off to a historic start, per SportsCenter:

The Cubs’ bats also woke up. After going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in Game 1 to Cleveland’s 2-for-9, Chicago went 3-for-12 Wednesday to the Indians’ 0-for-4. This resulted in RBI from four different Cubs in the win.

Another major reason why this series is tied is the re-emergence of Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber.

After missing practically the entire regular season with a knee injury, Schwarber battled back in his rehabilitation to make a surprising appearance on Chicago’s World Series roster, and the team’s faith in the 23-year-old is paying off. Through two games, Schwarber is 3-for-7 with two RBI and a pair of walks, generating two runs in Wednesday’s win.

His teammate Kris Bryant, who could be the National League MVP this season, raved about Schwarber’s play so far, per CSN Chicago’s Cubs Talk:

However, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, it’s possible Schwarber could be back in the outfield sooner rather than later. Schwarber has only been cleared thus far to hit and run the bases but not to play the outfield. He has already served as the designated hitter through two games, but the team wants to be cautious about rushing him back into the outfield just six months removed from serious knee surgery. 

Rosenthal reported that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein will consult team doctors Friday, but Epstein said Schwarber will get a chance to impact the game in some capacity during the three-game stretch at Wrigley Field.

“He’s got tremendous strength and flexibility in the knee, as demonstrated by what he’s done out there,” Epstein said. “We’ll see. If he does end up playing out there, we’ll make sure he’s smart about it. If he doesn’t, we’ll put him in a big spot (as a pinch hitter) to take one of the most important at-bats of the game.”

Having Schwarber in the lineup is critical to helping a Cubs offense that has failed to establish any consistency this postseason. He’s been the best hitter for the team through two games this series, and one has to believe Chicago will do everything it can to get him on the field at Wrigley without jeopardizing his future.

For Cleveland, a young star of its own is making some big noise this postseason.

Francisco Lindor continues to be the team’s best position player, making an impact at the plate, on the basepaths and in the field. He is hitting 3-for-7 in this series with a double, walk and stolen base, which continues his terrific overall 2016 playoff numbers of a .342 average with four RBI.

The 22-year-old credited his teammates for his success when speaking before Game 2, per Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes:

I think it has to do with my teammates. Michael Brantley, Mike Napoli, Jason Kipnis, Roberto Perez and Jose Ramirez—all of them. 

We’ve kept that same mentality in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field since day one. I’m just trying to do the exact same thing since day one, just somehow get on base. Just find a good pitch to hit and get on base. If I don’t get on base, I just try to find a way to help the team win that day.

Cleveland will need Lindor to pace the offense in Game 3, as the Indians have a difficult matchup.

Kyle Hendricks, who led the majors with a 2.13 ERA in the regular season, will take the hill against Josh Tomlin, which seems to favor the Cubs on paper. Tomlin was a decent 13-9 this season with a 4.40 ERA, and he has been good this postseason with wins in both of his starts for 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings.

However, Hendricks has been excellent all year. He went 16-8 in the regular season, and through three postseason starts, the 26-year-old has allowed just three runs in 16.1 innings.

Chicago seems to have the edge in pitching in Game 3, but Cleveland has proved people wrong all season as it sits in this position despite dealing with a slew of injuries. Thus, it looks like this could be a close, exciting contest in Wrigley’s first World Series game since 1945.

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World Series Game 2 Betting Preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians Odds

The Chicago Cubs played like they had not been in a World Series since 1945 as they fell to the Cleveland Indians 6-0 in Game 1 Tuesday.

But despite that loss, the Cubs remain slight favorites to win the series at most sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark and are listed as -155 chalk (bet $155 to win $100) to take Game 2 Wednesday.

Chicago will turn to 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta (0-1, 4.91 ERA in two starts this postseason) in an effort to even the series before heading to Wrigley Field for three games over the weekend.

The two outings for Arrieta (game log) in the playoffs both took place on the road and resulted in losses, but he went 11-3 with a 3.59 ERA in 15 regular-season starts away from home as opponents hit just .203 against him.

Cleveland will be hard-pressed to duplicate ace Corey Kluber’s performance in Game 1 after he set a World Series record by striking out eight batters in the first three innings.

Trevor Bauer will head to the mound next and hopes to last longer than his latest outing, which totaled less than an inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS because stitches came loose on his pinky finger that was injured in an incident with a drone.

Bauer (game log) went 6-4 with a 4.73 ERA at Progressive Field during the regular season.

If Bauer cannot stay in the game again, the Indians have a solid option out of the bullpen in former starter Danny Salazar, who could throw up to 70 pitches after coming back from a forearm injury and being added to the postseason roster. Like designated hitter Kyle Schwarber for the Cubs, Salazar could be an X-factor in this series.

Schwarber had a fairly impressive Game 1 in his return from a gruesome knee injury that had sidelined him since the first week of the season, hitting a double with a walk and two strikeouts.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona improved to 9-0 in World Series games with the victory following two sweeps with the Boston Red Sox. Another betting trend in the Tribe’s favor is that the Game 1 winner has gone on to win the World Series 17 of the previous 19 years, including six straight.

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Cubs vs. Indians Live-Stream Schedule, Odds and Pre-Game 2 Comments

The Cleveland Indians were able to take an early series lead with a 6-0 win in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series, and the Chicago Cubs will look to avoid a difficult two-game hole on Wednesday in Game 2.

The Indians used a quick start and some dominant pitching to earn the comfortable victory, as a two-run first inning was all the team needed. Wednesday’s contest will also be moved up early due to rain concerns later in the night, per MLB.

Let us take a look at the television and live-stream schedules, the latest odds and some comments from both teams ahead of Game 2.

Jake Arrieta is set to take the hill in Game 2, as he tries to rediscover the dominant form that had him penciled in as the Cy Young favorite at the beginning of the season.

Arrieta was 9-0 with an ERA under 2.00 through May, but he has faltered slightly ever since. The 30-year-old went 9-8 for the rest of the season, but he still finished with a solid 3.10 ERA. 

That slide has continued a bit in these playoffs, where Arrieta has two starts for an 0-1 record and a 4.91 ERA in just 11 innings. The Cubs need their star pitcher to turn it around on Wednesday, but they also need some offense and a strong arm behind the plate. As a result, Chicago manager Joe Maddon is contemplating whether to play Arrieta‘s preferred catcher, Miguel Montero, or the more skilled Willson Contreras.

“The facts are the facts,” Maddon said, per Paul Skrbina of the Chicago Tribune. “They run, and Willson is one of the best young throwers in the game. You have to balance out how comfortable you think Jake’s going to be throwing to him versus Miggy.”

Of Chicago’s three catchers, including David Ross, Contreras led the team by throwing out just over 37 percent of runners attempting to steal, while Montero threw out just under 11 percent and Ross posted roughly a 27 percent success rate. The Indians were fourth in the majors with 134 stolen bases in the regular season, but they have just four in nine games in these playoffs.

Of the two under consideration to start Game 2, Contreras has been far better offensively, hitting .282 in the regular season and .409 in the postseason compared to the .216 and .111 respective marks from Montero.

Adding a surprise bat into the World Series lineup in Kyle Schwarber could also get Arrieta some needed run support. The pitcher is certainly confident, as was relayed by ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers before Game 1:

Chicago president Theo Epstein also expressed assurance in the young Schwarber, praising the 23-year-old’s rigorous rehabilitation from an early-season knee injury, per the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Sullivan.

“He did unbelievable job as a rehabbing player, and we weren’t going to take the opportunity away from him,” Epstein said. “He’s also a special talent and a special kid, and if anyone can contribute in a World Series environment after only four or five days of live pitching, it’s probably him.”

Schwarber did not show much rust on Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with a double and a crucial walk off Andrew Miller in the seventh inning to help load the bases.

On the other side, Trevor Bauer will start for the first time since his first-inning exit against the Toronto Blue Jays on Oct. 17. Yet, he does not anticipate his lacerated finger to cause problems again, per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick:

Bauer will have a tough act to follow, as Corey Kluber was sensational in Game 1, going six innings, allowing no runs and four hits, and setting a franchise record with nine strikeouts in a World Series game, per SportsCenter.

As ESPN.com’s Andrew Marchand reported before Game 1, Cleveland manager Terry Francona is hoping he can get quality outings from his first three starters, which also includes Josh Tomlin. This would allow Kluber the opportunity for a possible Game 7 start, but Francona needs his other starters to help.

“It’s not just one guy can handle it and maybe come back early,” Francona said, per Marchand. “Because once you do that, then the other guys pretty much have to, too, [or] you’re really not helping yourself.”

While Kluber and the Cleveland bullpen were the catalysts for the win, the team did score six runs behind a breakout performance from catcher Roberto Perez. He went 2-for-4 on Tuesday, including two historic home runs, per USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:

Perez’s teammates took notice of Perez’s play, as Miller noted that the mostly unproven player deserves his current playing time, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

“He should be a star catcher,” Miller said. “He’s going in that direction. He’s that good behind the plate defensively.”

Francisco Lindor, who also had a big night by going 3-for-4 with a walk, said that despite Perez’s abysmal .183 average this season, the catcher had the potential for this type of outing, per Rosenthal.

“Remember, he went a long time without playing,” Lindor said. “He just needed time. If you take away the first 70 to 100 at-bats, he had a good offensive year.”

Still, even with the 15 total strikeouts and shaky pitching in Game 1, Ross believes the Cubs can build from this loss and improve against Cleveland’s top guys as the series progresses, per MLB.com‘s Jordan Bastian and Carrie Muskat.

“We knew [the Indians’ formula] going in,” Ross said about facing Kluber, Miller and Cody Allen, “but I think the moral of the story is we got to see those guys on Day 1. Hopefully, that will pay off later.” 

Chicago better hope it can bounce back, as its streaky postseason offense once again did the team in. With some uncertainty around how well Arrieta will pitch and which Cubs lineup will appear, it looks like it could be a tough Game 2 for the visitors.

Chicago did show that it can improve against aces when seeing them again, as it solved Clayton Kershaw to clinch the NLCS from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yet, the series could be spinning out of control for the Cubs by the time Kluber returns to the mound for Game 4.


Statistics are courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted. Game 2 odds courtesy of Odds Shark.

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World Series 2016: Schedule and Predictions for Cubs vs. Indians Game 1

One team’s prolonged championship drought will end in the 2016 World Series, as the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians start the last leg of their playoff journeys in Game 1 on Tuesday.

The Cubs’ MLB title drought is already well-known, as the team has gone without a championship since 1908. The Cubs are making their first World Series appearance since 1945, and they’ll look to their top postseason arm to lead them to a tough road win.

On the other hand, Cleveland has not won the World Series since 1948, which is the longest drought in the American League. The Indians will also trot out an ace on Tuesday in what seems likely to be a low-scoring affair.

Let’s take a look at the schedule and preview for Game 1 of the Fall Classic.


Game 1 Preview

Jon Lester is set to take the hill for the Cubs to kick off the series, and he has been excellent during his postseason career. 

In 19 appearances—17 of them starts—Lester is 8-6 with a 2.50 ERA and a 3.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s been even better this postseason, with a 2-0 mark and a 0.86 ERA in three starts. Lester’s World Series history also suggests he should be comfortable on Tuesday night, per ESPN Stats & Info:

However, Lester’s matchup against this Indians lineup suggests his stout playoff numbers may not hold up.

Cleveland was among the best teams in the majors against left-handed pitching this season, ranking sixth overall with a .268 club average. Lester also has a shaky history against many of the current Indians:

Lester hasn’t allowed more than one run in any start this postseason, but that streak may be in jeopardy. Cleveland has shown it can hit the lefty, and it will surely be amped by the rowdy home crowd. That could result in some early offense.

Lester will still pitch well, but he could give up a few runs on Tuesday.

As for his counterpart, Corey Kluber is another formidable arm that is also dominating in these playoffs.

In three starts, the 2014 Cy Young winner is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA. Kluber put up these numbers against two of the top offenses in baseball, as the Boston Red Sox led the league in scoring this season and the Toronto Blue Jays lineup boasts some scary talent, including Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki.

Those three starts continued a trend of dominance that Kluber has enjoyed since the All-Star break. In the second half of the regular season, he was 9-1 with a 2.52 ERA. 

Thanks to its phenomenal bullpen, Cleveland has not needed many innings from its starters. But Kluber has been the exception to that, as he has a solid 18.1 innings of work this postseason. That raises the pressure on Kluber to go deeper into games to preserve the bullpen if this series goes long.

Kluber does not have much experience against the Cubs, with Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist being the only players with more than three at-bats against the Cleveland starter. In addition, Chicago has been streaky offensively this postseason, so there is little certainty as to how it will produce on Tuesday.

With both starters likely to be solid, this game could come down to the bullpen, giving Cleveland an edge. Led by Andrew Miller, the Indians have been riding their relievers to wins all postseason, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian noted in this tweet:

It’s tough to imagine either team scoring more than a few runs in this one, given the pitching prowess both clubs present. This game could be won on a late run, and Cleveland’s odds of getting the win look to be higher than Chicago’s, given the strength of its bullpen and its AL-best 53-28 regular-season home record. Expect a close Indians win in Game 1.

Prediction: Cleveland wins, 3-2


Statistics are courtesy of MLB.com unless noted otherwise.

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World Series Game 1 Betting Preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians Odds

The two MLB teams with the longest droughts without winning a championship will square off in the 2016 World Series starting Tuesday in Cleveland.

The underdog Indians come into the World Series with a price of +170 (bet $100 to win $170) against the favored Chicago Cubs, who are -190 chalk (bet $190 to win $100) at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark to bring home their first MLB title since 1908.

The Game 1 pitching matchup pitting Cleveland’s Corey Kluber against Chicago’s Jon Lester opened as a pick’em and features two of the most dominant aces in the postseason this year.

Despite all the positive attention the bullpen for the Indians has gotten so far, Kluber has seemingly returned to his Cy Young Award-winning form from two years ago in these playoffs, allowing just two runs in 18.1 innings of work over three starts.

The hard-throwing righty has walked seven and struck out 20 after going 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 32 starts during the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have won all three of Lester’s starts this postseason, including two in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers that both resulted in identical 8-4 scores to earn him NLCS co-MVP honors.

Lester has given up just two runs over 21 innings with two walks and 14 strikeouts following a rebound campaign in 2016 that saw him end up 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA after going 11-12 with a 3.34 ERA in 2015.

Cleveland has home-field advantage in the World Series by virtue of the American League beating the National League 4-2 in the All-Star Game at San Diego’s Petco Park on July 12.

However, no team has more road wins this year than the Cubs, who went 46-34 away from home in the regular season and have won three of five in the playoffs to date. And Chicago has a 69 percent chance of winning the World Series, according to PredictionMachine.com.

The teams split four meetings last year, with Lester and Kluber both walking away with no-decisions in the most recent game, won 2-1 by Chicago at Wrigley Field on a Kris Bryant walk-off home run. The Cubs have won six of the last eight head-to-head matchups dating back to 2006, according to the Odds Shark MLB database.

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World Series 2016 Schedule: Dates, TV Info and More for MLB Championship

The 2016 World Series is set, and no matter who wins, it will be a celebration a long time in the making.

The Chicago Cubs are considered the team of destiny as they try to win their first championship since 1908. On the other hand, the Cleveland Indians haven’t won a title since 1948, and their fans will be just as excited about the possibility of a win.

Both teams will come out with a lot of energy to provide fans with the best possible matchup on the sport’s biggest stage. Here is what you need to know about the upcoming battle. 



When it comes to the Cubs, it’s hard not to talk about history. Not only has it been more than 100 years since the last World Series win, but the organization hadn’t even won the pennant since 1945.

After the Cubs clinched the National League Championship Series, that was just about all anyone could talk about.

“To stand on that platform afterwards,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, “and you’re looking at the ballpark and the fans and the ‘W’ flags everywhere. I think about the fans, and their parents, and their grandparents, and great-grandparents, and everything else that’s been going on here for a while.”

However, it’s important to remember that the current squad stands on its own as an elite team. The players aren’t necessarily carrying history with them; they won 103 games with a lot of talent in just about every part of the roster.

The starting pitching has been great all year, especially Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. The duo has allowed just five earned runs in 37.1 innings this postseason, including just three runs total in four starts in the NLCS.

Jake Arrieta hasn’t been quite as dominant, but he is the reigning NL Cy Young winner and has good enough stuff to be a shutdown pitcher in the upcoming round.

Meanwhile, the lineup is even more dangerous, as so many different players can carry the offense on a given night. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and others can get hot at any time, and they have shown it throughout the season and playoffs. If this team is clicking, there aren’t too many holes.

Of course, the Indians aren’t in this spot by luck, either.

The bullpen is the real story of the team’s success, featuring the lights-out combo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. While Allen is usually considered the “closer” on the team, the reality is that either pitcher can come in any inning and shut down any part of the lineup.

Manager Terry Francona has been creative in his use of the bullpen this postseason, and it has led to opponents having seemingly no chance of coming back late in games.

Although the starting rotation has been a mess because of a handful of injuries, the team still has Corey Kluber leading the way as one of the top pitchers in baseball. It’s tough to know what to expect from either Josh Tomlin or rookie Ryan Merritt, but you can’t count either out.

The real question mark is the lineup, which has loads of talent but struggled last series against the Toronto Blue Jays, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:

Cleveland is batting only .208 in the postseason, which is impressive for a team that has won two series already. With Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis capable of racking up hits and Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli adding power, this unit can be quite dangerous if it gets going.

In any case, these two teams should create a memorable World Series that could go the distance.


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World Series 2016 Schedule: TV, Live-Stream Coverage for Fall Classic

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 MLB.com:

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 Baseball-Reference.com.

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 Baseball-Reference.com.

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 MLB.com 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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NLCS Schedule 2016: Game Time, Live Stream and Updated Odds

The Chicago Cubs offense finally came to life over the past two games of the 2016 National League Championship Series to push the drought-stricken organization within one victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers of reaching its first World Series since 1945.

Now the pressure shifts to the Dodgers, who had taken early control of the series with two straight shutouts in Games 2 and 3. They’ll hope sending ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound Saturday night can silence the suddenly revitalized Cubs lineup once again.

Let’s check out all of the important viewing information for the final two games of the series, though Game 7 may not be needed. That’s followed by a look at the updated odds and a prediction for whether Los Angeles can force a deciding game Sunday.


2016 NLCS Schedule


Current Series Odds


Game 6 Preview

The Dodgers were in the driver’s seat with a 2-1 series lead and Kershaw looming for Game 6. Winning one of the final two games at home would have sent them back to Chicago with the league’s best pitcher prepared to break the hearts of Cubs fans again.

Instead, the club now needs a dominant performance from its ace just to keep the season alive. He pitched a gem in Game 2, tossing seven shutout innings with six strikeouts while giving up just two hits and walking one. L.A. needs a similar outing Saturday night.

Knowing Kershaw will be on the mound is a mental boost for the Dodgers, though. Kike Hernandez further explained why the team remains upbeat about its chances of a comeback despite heading out on the road with its back against the wall, per Jack Baer of MLB.com:

This team is more than capable of winning two games in a row. In Game 6, we have the best pitcher on the mound, and then in Game 7, we have Rich [Hill], who looked pretty good against them. The last time we lost two in a row, we came back and won two in a row against Washington, so I don’t see why we’re out of this. We’re still pretty confident we can come back and win a series.

Of course, the Cubs don’t have a slouch taking the ball in Game 6, either. Kyle Hendricks actually led baseball in ERA during the regular season with a 2.13 mark because Kershaw (1.69) didn’t have enough innings to qualify due to some injury issues.

The 26-year-old breakout sensation has earned comparisons to former Atlanta Braves ace Greg Maddux, who had two stints with the Cubs, because he carves up hitters without the electric stuff of a Kershaw. Maddux told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers he likes what he’s seen from the Cubs starter.

“He does all those things usually better than the guys he’s facing,” Maddux said. “If it was a radar contest, then why play the game, right? Velocity is nice, but command and movement are better.”

In an era where there’s so much focus on upper-90s fastballs and monster strikeout totals, it’s refreshing to see a pitcher who can get hitters out consistently by attacking every area of the strike zone.

All told, it sets the stage for a pitcher’s duel Saturday night. It’s hard to imagine two offenses that have run hot and cold throughout the playoffs are going to generate a ton of chances against two of the top pitchers in the game this year.

ESPN Stats and Info passed along a stat to showcase how important it is for the Cubs to get into the Dodgers bullpen:

If Chicago is able to get Kershaw out of the game before the seventh inning, its chances of winning certainly skyrocket, even in a close game. But it’s more likely the lefty goes the distance to force Game 7 for the National League pennant.

Prediction: 3-2 Dodgers


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