This is it. It’s been 68 years since Cleveland has brought home a World Series trophy, and 108 since the miserable Cubs franchise did the same. Soon, one of those droughts comes to an end.
Game 1’s first pitch comes at 8:08pm ET tonight in Cleveland. It’ll be Jon Lester vs. Corey Kluber in what should be a captivating pitcher’s duel. Let’s take a look at what we have to look forward to tonight and for the rest of the series.
Kyle Schwarber and Danny Salazar Return
This series got even more interesting when it was revealed Kyle Schwarber would return to the Cubs lineup as a DH and Danny Salazar would return to the Indians rotation. Schwarber’s been out since the beginning of the season after tearing both his ACL and LCL. Salazar injured his elbow in early September.
How much either player will contribute remains to be seen. Schwarber didn’t look 100% during his rehab stint in the Arizona Fall League, but we all know the World Series brings juuuust a bit more motivation to the table. As for Salazar, he could be a huge breath of fresh air for an Indians team that probably would prefer to have their stars facing this scary Chicago offense.
The Andrew Miller Factor
Andrew Miller was virtually unhittable out of Cleveland’s bullpen during the ALCS. His performance earned him ALCS MVP honors, and it’s doubtful he’ll be slowed down in the World Series.
The Cubs, even as good as they are, should be weary of the Indians’ bullpen. Their best bet is to tack on runs early because once Terry Francona brings out Miller in the fifth or sixth inning, it’s pretty much game over. I don’t care what lineup he faces, he’s on another level.
The Cubs’ Offense Looks Back To Normal
The Cubs’ struggling offense still managed to limp its way into the World Series after seemingly figuring things out in the latter part of the NLCS. Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell in particular were struggling mightily before the two combined for 13 hits, four homers, and 9 RBI in the final three games of the series.
Rizzo, Russell, and the rest of Chicago’s lineup will need that success to carry over. Any sort of slumping from their stars will put them in an extremely tough position against an Indians team that’s proven itself to be a force this postseason. Somehow, the Indians are considered major underdogs. The Cubs better not treat them like such.
Get ready for what should be one of the best World Series yet. For our staff’s World Series picks, go here.