One of MLB’s two longest championship droughts is set to come to an end, and it all begins with Game 1 of the 2016 World Series. The Cleveland Indians host the Chicago Cubs in the series opener on Tuesday night as two of the best starters in baseball go head-to-head.
Corey Kluber will throw the game’s first pitch, having gone 2-1 in his first-ever postseason with Cleveland. Jon Lester gets the start for Chicago, and he’s arguably been the best pitcher in the league this season. Both starters have been so good that it’s hard to give either team the edge to begin the series.
Kluber lost Game 4 of the ALCS, but he allowed just two runs in five innings when pitching on three days’ rest. In his two playoff starts on full rest, Kluber didn’t surrender any runs in 13.1 innings. Lester has built himself a reputation as being one of the best postseason starters of all-time, pitching to a 2.50 career ERA in 17 starts. The left-hander has a 0.86 ERA and 0.76 WHIP this October.
The Indians could be rusty against Lester, having not played in six days. The Cubs are just three days removed from clinching the NLCS over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Chicago is likely thankful that they didn’t have too much rest in between games, considering the way they’ve swung the bats in the last few games. The Cubs have totaled 23 runs during their three-game winning streak, and their top hitters have come through in a big way. Anthony Rizzo is eight for his last 15 with two home runs, and NL MVP favorite Kris Bryant is hitting .333 this postseason.
Perhaps most importantly, the Cubs are adding a slugger to their lineup that has been injured for almost the whole season. Kyle Schwarber went down with a torn ACL on April 7, but he’s ready to return and start at DH in Game 1. The 23-year-old hit 16 homers in 69 games last year, and he posted five home runs in nine playoff games.
If the game is decided by the two bullpens, Cleveland will be in a great position to take Game 1. Playing at home with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen (no runs allowed in 19.1 playoffs innings) waiting to take the mound, the Indians should be able to hold onto any late-game lead.
But Lester and the Cubs’ lineup have been so good that the Indians’ relievers might not be a factor.
Game 1 will begin at 8 p.m. EDT with coverage on FOX. Those who can’t see the contest on TV can watch a free live stream online with FOX Sports Go.
Prediction: Chicago over Cleveland, 3-1