The Chicago Cubs have the longest title drought in American sports, but that is expected to soon come to an end. The National League champs are favored to beat the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series.
The Cubs have been MLB favorites for almost every single day this season, and they have -190 betting odds to win the Fall Classic for the first time since 1908. Cleveland is a +170 underdog, via Bovada.lv.
History might not be on Chicago’s side, but that hasn’t mattered much in 2016. Chicago won eight more games than any other team in the regular season, and they’re facing a franchise that’s had their own share of bad luck over the years. Cleveland hasn’t won the World Series since 1948.
Chicago is led by multiple MVP and CY Young candidates that have come through in big moments this postseason. If they are able to keep that going in the World Series, the Cubs will be very difficult to beat.
Third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo gave Chicago the No.3 scoring offense in baseball in the regular season, and they have performed like stars in the playoffs. Bryant has been consistent through each series, hitting .333 with a .948 OPS. Rizzo found himself in a slump in his first six games, but he broke out in a big way against the Los Angeles Dodgers, closing out the NLCS with eight hits in his last 15 at-bats.
Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks led all starters in ERA in the regular season, and they’ve pitched like aces in the playoffs. Lester continues to grow his legacy as an all-time postseason great, allowing just two runs in 21 innings. Hendricks has a 1.65 ERA in three starts, and he shut out the Dodgers through 7.1 innings in the NLCS clincher.
Lester will take the ball in Game 1 in Cleveland, likely followed by Jake Arrieta in Game 2. Hendricks should get the start in Game 3 at Wrigley Field, where he excels, leaving John Lackey to get the start in Game 4.
Corey Kluber will start for the Indians in Game 1, and he leads an Indians rotation that has multiple question marks. Trevor Bauer will start in Game 2 and Josh Tomlin is set to go in Game 3, according to USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale, but it’s unknown what Cleveland will do for the rest of the series. Kluber could start Game 4 on three days’ rest, as he did in the ALCS, and starter Danny Salazar could be available to pitch in the World Series after missing the ALDS and ALCS with an injury. Ryan Merritt, who pitched just 11 innings in the regular season, tossed 4.1 innings in a Game 5 start in the ALCS.
Kluber has been terrific this postseason, allowing just two runs in 18.1 innings. While Chicago has the clear advantage in the rotation, he can match Lester and help the Indians steal the series opener at home. Only the Cubs had a better home record than Cleveland this year, and the Indians are undefeated in Cleveland this postseason.
If Cleveland pulls off the upset, it will likely have a lot to do with Kluber and the back end of their bullpen. Closer Cody Allen and setup man Andrew Miller have been unhittable in the playoffs, combining to throw 19.1 shutout innings. Miller has been especially valuable, striking out 21 batters in 11.2 innings and getting at least five outs in five of his six appearances.
Cleveland has had their own special run to the World Series, but this finally appears to be Chicago’s year. Looking like the clear best overall team in the regular season and playoffs, the Cubs might be too good for anyone to beat in a seven-game series.
World Series Prediction: Chicago in five games