Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tribe Talk: The Improbable Fall Classic #Indians #Cubs #WorldSeries

By Alex Hale, @ThatCLESportGuy

Six months ago, 30 teams started on their quest towards the World Series and now we’ve reached the final two.  What makes this year unlike previous years, this year’s World Series features a matchup that no one could’ve predicted…Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs.  What some refer to as the, “Apocalypse World Series” really looks like one of the most intriguing matchups in recent years for the World Series.  These are two teams who have gotten to this point in completely different ways with completely different managers running them.  Look beyond the obvious, “big market vs. little market” and you’ll see that these two teams create quite the World Series where both teams seem to cause problems for each team’s weaknesses.  With that said we’re going to dive into the differences between both teams and finally who I believe is going to win the World Series.


This is a matchup between two of the best managers in the game today.  Joe Maddon might be the best strategic manager around who has shown he can win with almost any team put in front of him.  Terry Francona is the best clubhouse manager in the game today, who masterfully gets the most out of each of his players.  What separates the two this year in this matchup is the way Francona has worked with the hand he’s been dealt and how he’s helped lead his team through all the adversity.  Joe Maddon and the Cubs have had little to no adversity as they’ve cruised throughout the whole season to this point.  Francona in a way deserves an edge over Maddon because it seems he’s evolved as a manager to more than just a clubhouse manager, but adding more strategy into his game, which had been lacking in previous years with the Indians.  I think even if the Indians faced adversity, Francona would lead them through it, while for the Cubs I don’t know against a battle tested team like the Indians that Joe Maddon might get them through it.  With that said I’m giving the slightest of edges to the Indians because of the amazing job Francona has done to this point.

Edge- Indians


I’m not even going to hide the edge here, the Cubs have the obvious edge here, especially with the return of Kyle Schwarber after his Torn ACL he suffered the first week of the season.  The Cubs have said he’ll be used as a DH, but that gives the Cubs a great hitter for the DH role as before his announced return this might’ve been a question mark for the Cubs.  The Cubs are led by Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant who can get hot at any time and torment pitching staffs.  Not to mention the emergence of Javy Baez and Addison Russell offensively throughout the National League playoffs.  The Indians in contrast have a scrappy lineup that when they’re hot, it’s hard to stop them as they feed off of each other.  It’s going to take one Indians bat to get hot for the rest to follow suit.  So far Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, and Jason Kipnis haven’t really done a whole lot, but just enough to get by.  The Indians can’t afford to let that happen in the World Series.  While I believe their ALCS offense was a fluke, it showed the Indians offense knows how to score when they need to score.  In a lot of way that’s all that matters, but purely by overall pure talent and potential, you have to give the Cubs the edge.

Edge- Cubs

Starting Rotation

Game 1 will feature a stellar matchup of Jon Lester vs. Corey Kluber that already shows a lot of promise for this series.  If we simply go by names, the edge will go to the Cubs, but the Indians rotation actually poses a real challenge for the Cubs.  What the Indians rotation features is 4 starters all of which are completely different.  With the return of Danny Salazar, the Indians get a much needed boost in the rotation and a flame-throwing starter with an excellent changeup.  The Cubs rotation relies on veteran pitchers who either are entering the last of their prime years or are rejuvenated careers.  While the Cubs rotation can be deadly, I’ve gotten the sense that they’re potentially vulnerable against the right opponent.  The Indians ability to work the count when they’re on can cause major problems that the Indians can thrive on.  But in terms of who has the edge overall, you could make a case either way to who has the edge, so in terms of fairness let’s call this even here.

Edge- Even


We all know about the Indians bullpen, but the question is in comparison how good is the Cubs bullpen?  The Cubs obviously have Aroldis Chapman as their main guy in the bullpen, but the question is who is after him?  The Cubs do have former Indians prospect Hector Rendon as their flame-throwing righty, but Rendon has been average in the postseason.  Travis Wood and Rob Zastryzny have been their top two relievers, but honestly there’s not much proven depth after Rendon for the Cubs.  This is where the Indians ability to work the count and get starters out of the game will be their biggest key to winning the World Series.  The Indians, much like the Royals of last year have their, “Big 3” relievers in Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller.  That doesn’t even count Dan Otero, Jeff Manship, and ALCS hero Ryan Merritt to back them up.  The Indians bullpen is extremely deep and more importantly battle tested.  This isn’t even a contest in terms of who has the edge, that goes to the Indians.

Edge- Indians


A drought will come to an end when this is all said and done.  The question is who?  To give a historical aspect to this, I look to the 1990 World Series between the Oakland A’s and the Cincinnati Reds.  The A’s were the defending World Champions and looked destined to repeat as World Champions with an outstanding lineup, strong rotation and a solid bullpen.  It took some magic from the Reds lineup along with the outstanding performance of Jose Rijo and the Reds dominant bullpen to shut down the, “Bash Brothers” offense which would end up being a Reds 4-0 sweep of the A’s.  On paper without looking too much into it, it’s easy to pick the Cubs, but the Indians are that team that is so resilient that they’ll overcome any challenge.  On top of that, the Indians are the underdog…exactly where they want to be. 
The youth and exuberance of the Indians, especially through times when they’ve been down will cause major problems for the Cubs.  While the Cubs seem to be that, “Team of Destiny” remember they didn’t get to this point last year.  Their NLCS victory celebration is one of a team that still doesn’t understand what it means to get to this point.  While the Indians celebration was fun, what sticks out is the Indians never celebrated on their home field.  That leaves that feeling of something is missing in the celebration.  From the beginning in my MLB Playoffs Preview, I had the Indians defeating the Cubs in the World Series.  I’m sticking by that and will go further, the Home Field Advantage that the Indians of 1995 and 1997 never had will be a major player as Cleveland will win the World Series at Progressive Field after Game 6 bringing home the Indians first World Series Championship since the 1948 Indians led by Lou Boudreau.  I believe that Francisco Lindor will be your World Series MVP emerging as one of the best young Shortstops in the league.

Pick- Indians in 6

All the ups and downs, triumphs and tragedy throughout this season has led us to the improbably World Series.  A 7-game series to decide who will be crowned as World Series Champions.  I can guarantee that this World Series will be like one you’ve never seen before and this is can’t miss television.  They don’t call this the Fall Classic for nothing, and I have a feeling we’re going to have some memorable moments in store for this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment