AL Champion Cleveland Indians vs. NL Champion Chicago Cubs (-175)
It has been well documented that Chicago is making it’s first World Series appearance since 1945 and is currently riding the longest championship drought in any of the 4 major pro sports at 107 years. However, the Indians come in right behind them with the second longest championship drought at 67 years. One of these long suffering fan bases will get to rejoice for the first time in a lifetime and that should make this a very entertaining World Series. It’s only fitting that the men behind the players – Terry Francona on the Indians and Theo Epstein on the Cubs – were both part of the Red Sox team that broke what was an 86 year drought back in 2004.
The Indians lineup thrives of getting on base and running. Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor provide the speed and runs at the top of the lineup, while Mike Napoli’s 34 HR 101 RBI bat provides power in the cleanup spot for an overall well-rounded lineup. Meanwhile for the Cubs, they boast a lineup without many weaknesses from 1-8, and if Jake Arrieta is on the mound then you can make that 1-9. Likely NL MVP Kris Bryant along with Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez lead a dynamic Cubs offense that ranked third in the majors this season. Despite the temporary power outage in back to back shutouts during games 2 and 3 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, there is too much talent for the Cubs lineup not to deliver during this World Series.
Each team boasts a former Cy Young winner in their starting rotation for this World Series. For the Indians, it’s Corey Kluber, who has been dominant this postseason. However, the story of the Indians pitching this postseason has been the unexpected performances from Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, and even rookie Ryan Merritt. With injuries to probable #2 and #3 starters Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, the rest of the rotation has stepped up big time. Their best pitcher right now is in the bullpen though, ALCS MVP Andrew Miller. With the ability to pitch multiple shut down innings, expect to see Miller in key situations late in games this series. For the Cubs, their former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta is #3 in the rotation, behind Cy Young candidates for this year Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. Lester has postseason experience and Hendricks has been lights out so far this postseason. Add in flamethrower Aroldis Chapman to close things out and the Cubs have a complete pitching staff.
The managers in this World Series are two of the best in the game – 2 time champion Terry Francona and Joe Maddon who took the lowly Rays to the World Series back in 2008. Even though the Cubs are significant favorite, I think this will be a close and hard fought series. The Indians have had time to rest and will begin the World Series at home, but the Cubs are battle tested and desperate to break professional sports’ last great curse. I predict that the Cubs will win the World Series in 7 games and Kyle Hendricks will be named MVP with a 2-0 record and 1.80 ERA.