The Chicago Cubs didn’t stand a chance against Corey Kluber last night. Even though they threatened, even having the bases juiced with no outs, there was the feeling that the Indians were going to be able to get out of the jam. Kluber and Andrew Miller were unhittable. The best the Cubs could do is guess what was coming to them. Part of being a good hitter is anticipating what’s coming from a pitcher, but there was honestly no hope in hell the Indians were picking up on what Kluber and Miller were delivering their way. The slider was filthy and the best chance they really had was to sit and hope for a ball on 3 ball counts. The Cubs had a 3-2 count with the bases loaded, 2 outs and I was screaming to just sit it out because a dirty pitch that was going to jump out of the strike zone was coming. Sure enough, an inning ending strikeout was the end result.
Kluber set a World Series’ record with eight punch outs through the first three innings. He ultimately ended with 9 after six innings on the mound. Kluber didn’t give up any walks to the Cubs. Like the Royals, people are having a hard time coming around on the Indians. I had the Cubs yesterday, so I can’t say much, but I don’t deny that the Indians didn’t get her by means of a fluky run. They won the American League Central, and in the postseason beat two American League juggernauts, the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays were two popular picks to come out of the American League. The Royals were a popular pick to win the AL Central, but look at who came out of the division as the winners there, too. Cleveland will turn to Trevor Bauer to get the job done tonight, as well as that potent bullpen. The Royals won the World Series thanks to a lights out bullpen. The San Francisco Giants were so successful in the postseason for the same reason. The Tribe can add their names to that list of teams to win the World Series with credible bullpens. It will only take three more wins to make it happen.
Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians
Jake Arrieta (18-9, 3.20 ERA) vs. Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.28 ERA)
If you want a recipe on how to win a World Series it’s build the best bullpen in the major leagues. A great bullpen can separate a team from the pack, even if the lineup isn’t packed with brand named players. Where is Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera? Yeah, neither were able to even make the postseason. Having guys like them is valuable, but at the end of the day, a bullpen can be the deciding factor. The Indians have figured it out, notably with Andrew Miller, who hasn’t allowed a run now in 18 outings! It has been seven weeks since a run has gotten past him. If the Cubs are down with Miller entering the game, good luck with that one.
It will be interesting to see how Bauer’s pinky finger holds up against the Cubs tonight. He gave it a go against the Blue Jays but blood poured from his finger and it was impossible for him to continue. Bauer said he’s confident he won’t have a problem with his finger, but we won’t really know until he gets going. What we do know about the Indians is how good their bullpen truly is. They saved the day when Bauer’s pinky didn’t hold up, and really have been the catalyst for their World Series’ run so I see no reason why they don’t shine again tonight. If Miller is counted to go a little longer than anticipated, I’m confident he will continue to make fools out of the Cubs’ hitters.
Jake Arrieta has not been the same pitcher as last season. He posted an ERA of 3.10 in the regular season, which is at 3.20 including the postseason currently. This is a guy who was below 2.00 last season, so yes, the jump is fairly significant. Arrieta has allowed 6 runs in 11 innings this postseason. His last start of the regular season saw him allow 7 runs against the Pirates. Thus, he has an ERA of 7.31 in his last three starts. The Indians haven’t lost at home yet in the postseason. No way should Arrieta be attracting a price over -150 on the road in Cleveland. I expect this to be a close one, with a run separating the Cubs and Indians. With the Indians’ bullpen, don’t be surprised to see a 2-0 lead for Cleveland after tonight.
PICK: INDIANS +1.5 (-125)