By: Kyle Tooley ~Sports Editor~
After falling into a 3-1 hole after the first four games of the World Series, the Chicago Cubs have roared back to force a Game 7 against the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 Fall Classic.
Pitching has been the story for the Indians in this series, as they’ve received standout-pitching performances from starters Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin.
Though the latter faltered in Game 6, The Indians have had wiggle room with their staff due to a lights-out bullpen that has been present throughout the entire postseason.
Andrew Miller, acquired from New York at the deadline and looked at as an afterthought on the relief-pitching market has put together one of the best postseasons of any reliever in MLB history. In 17.0 innings of work, Miller has allowed only eight hits and a single run while amassing 29 strikeouts.
Offensively, the Indians have turned to a few surprising heroes for their World Series victories. Outside of shortstop Francisco Lindor, who has put together an MVP-worthy series, Cleveland has seen guys like Jose Ramirez, Roberto Perez and Coco Crisp step up in major ways. Crisp’s pinch-hit RBI in Game 3 made the difference for the Tribe.
The Cubs have been streaky at best during this series, appearing to be completely shut down offensively or look like the greatest hitting team in baseball on any given night.
Their nine runs in Game 6 was their highest tally of the series and second-highest total of the postseason, showing that maybe they’ve regained some momentum.
The Cubs held the best record in baseball in the regular season for a reason, as their high-powered offense was matched with one of the deepest pitching staffs in the game. They’ve had the liberty of throwing Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks, the frontrunner for the National League Cy Young Award, multiple times in this series. Lester and Hendricks both carry sub-2.00 ERAs in the World Series while Arrieta leads the staff with two wins.
Game 7 will feature a pitching matchup that fans only dream about, as Kyle Hendricks will toe the rubber for Chicago and Corey Kluber will take the mound for the Indians. Hendricks was a 16- game winner in 2016, posting a 0.98 walks and hits per inning ratio (WHIP). Kluber, the American League Cy Young winner in 2014, won 18 games this season while striking out 227 batters in 215.0 frames. Both pitchers will be on their own version of short rest, as Kluber last pitched in Game 4 on Saturday, Oct. 29 and Hendricks pitched in Game 3 on Friday, Oct. 28.
The historical significance of this game could not be larger for either club, as the Indians are looking for their first title since 1948 while Chicago just ended the longest drought in professional sports history of years without going to a championship round. The Cubs haven’t won a title since 1908 and are in their first World Series since 1945.