Kluber and Lester Get Game 1 Honors as World Series Kicks Off From Cleveland
Bob Toth | On 25, Oct 2016
The moment baseball fans across the world have waited for is finally here – the 2016 World Series kicks off from downtown Cleveland on Tuesday night as the Indians play host in the Fall Classic to the Chicago Cubs in the annual best-of-seven competition.
In a series chock full of storylines, most notably the lengthy droughts both clubs have suffered through in the pursuit of a world’s championship on the diamond, two teams who have proven to be the best of their collective leagues will take the field with one goal in sight – to bring home a championship to their long suffering fans.
For the Indians, their return to the World Series is just 19 years in the making, but the club has lost each of its previous three trips to the big show after winning in 1920 and again in 1948. The journey for the fans at Wrigley Field is significantly more public knowledge as the lovable losers, owners of the top record in all of baseball this season at 103-58, have reached the promised land ten times now since becoming the Cubs in 1903, but not once since 1945 until this month. Chicago won back-to-back World Series in 1907 and 1908 before losing in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945.
GAME TIMES and PITCHING PROBABLES
Tuesday, 10/25/16 (8:00 PM ET at CLE) – LHP Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14)
Wednesday, 10/26/16 (8:00 PM ET at CLE) – RHP Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26)
Friday, 10/28/16 (8:00 PM ET at CHI) –RHP Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40) vs. RHP Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13)
Saturday, 10/29/16 (8:00 at CHI) – TBD vs. RHP John Lackey (11-8, 3.35)
Sunday, 10/30/16* (8:00 at CHI) – TBD vs. TBD
Tuesday, 11/1/16* (8:00 at CLE) – TBD vs. TBD
Wednesday, 11/2/16* (8:00 at CLE) – TBD vs. TBD
TV (all games) – FOX
Radio (all games) – Indians Radio Network; 670 The Score (Chicago); ESPN Radio
KLUBER SETS THE TONE
The Indians need a stellar outing from Kluber to set the tone for the club, and a little run support from his offensive mates would not hurt his cause one bit, but the task will be tough against a playoff veteran like Lester.
Kluber had another strong season anchoring the Cleveland rotation, working in 32 starts before he was slowed by a right quad injury during the final week of September. He went 18-9 in the regular season, matching his record from his 2014 Cy Young campaign, and did it with a 3.14 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while striking out 227 batters in 215 innings of work. He was also honored midseason with his first selection to the All-Star team, albeit as an injury replacement.
The 30-year-old right-hander has appeared three times in the postseason thus far. He earned a win in the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, holding their powerful lineup to just three hits and three walks in seven innings of shutout baseball. He started off the ALCS against Toronto with his second win, throwing six and one-third innings of scoreless baseball again while allowing six hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
KLUBER VERSUS THE CUBS
Kluber has faced the Cubs just once in his career, but he left a lasting impression and did so against Lester. Kluber threw seven and two-thirds innings of one-run baseball against his World Series counterpart, allowing just four hits while hitting one batter and striking out eleven in a no-decision. Lester was one out away from a complete game shutout before giving up a two-out RBI single to Carlos Santana to knock in Abraham Almonte with the tying run. Kris Bryant won the game in the bottom of the ninth when he hit a walk-off homer off of Zach McAllister after the Indians right-hander struck out the first two batters to start the inning.
Being an unfamiliar face will undoubtedly play to Kluber’s advantage throughout the series. Ten members of the Chicago roster have faced Cleveland’s ace throughout their careers and in 45 combined plate appearances, the Cubs have mustered just four hits (.095 batting average) and 16 strikeouts. Anthony Rizzo, David Ross, and Chris Coghlan are all 1-for-3, with Rizzo hitting a triple against him with the Cubs’ only RBI. Ross has a single to go with two strikeouts, while Coghlan has a double.
PLAYOFF TESTED LESTER
Lester fired off 200+ innings for the seventh time in his Major League career this season on the way to his fourth All-Star appearance and his first in the National League. In his second year with the Cubs, Lester matched his career-high with 19 wins while losing just five times in 32 starts. He posted a 2.44 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP while striking out 197 batters.
If anyone knows Lester in the Indians organization, it will be manager Terry Francona, who managed him during his tenure with the Red Sox. Lester was with Francona for the Red Sox’s title in 2007. He is 3-0 in three career World Series starts with a miniscule 1.38 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 13 innings. He faced the Indians during his first playoff series back in 2007 as a 23-year-old rookie, allowing two runs on three hits in three and two-thirds innings of relief combined in Game 2 and Game 4 of the ALCS, both Red Sox losses to the Indians.
LESTER AGAINST THE TRIBE
Lester has put in some work against the Indians over his ten-year career, last facing them in that head-to-head matchup against Kluber in 2015. He owns a 7-1 career mark in 15 starts against Cleveland with a 3.03 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 93 strikeouts in 95 innings.
Indians hitters have three times as many plate appearances against Lester than Cubs hitters have against Kluber, dating back to the left-handed veteran’s time in the Boston rotation and briefly with Oakland.
Mike Napoli owns the top average (.400) and second-highest on-base percentage (.471) of current Indians players against Lester with a double, two homers, and five RBI in 17 career plate appearances. Rajai Davis has seen Lester 51 times in his career, more than the Cubs combined against Kluber. He has 14 hits, including three doubles, three triples, and an Indians-high six RBI. Coco Crisp has a homer and single in 15 plate appearances against him.
Both teams brought back big names to their squads with the formal announcements of the 25-man World Series rosters.
The Indians have added right-hander Danny Salazar into the pitching mix. He could be on target for a Game 4 start, although it is unknown how much he could contribute in regards to length. He has not pitched in a game since September 9. Right-handed reliever Cody Anderson was taken off of the roster to make room for Salazar.
The Cubs brought back Kyle Schwarber, an outfielder and catcher with a big bat who had missed nearly the entire season after tearing his ACL in an outfield collision back on April 7 in just his second game of the season. He had been working in the Arizona Fall League while rehabbing the injury and could be in the starting lineup for the Cubs in the designated hitter spot in Game 1 of the series from Cleveland. Left-handed reliever Rob Zastryzny was removed from the roster to make room for him.
|P||Cody Allen||Jake Arrieta|
|Trevor Bauer||Aroldis Chapman|
|Mike Clevinger||Carl Edwards Jr.|
|Corey Kluber||Justin Grimm|
|Jeff Manship||Kyle Hendricks|
|Zach McAllister||John Lackey|
|Ryan Merritt||Jon Lester|
|Andrew Miller||Mike Montgomery|
|Dan Otero||Hector Rondon|
|Danny Salazar||Pedro Strop|
|Bryan Shaw||Travis Wood|
|C||Yan Gomes||Willson Contreras|
|Roberto Perez||Miguel Montero|
|IF||Jason Kipnis||Javy Baez|
|Francisco Lindor||Kris Bryant|
|Michael Martinez||Anthony Rizzo|
|Mike Napoli||Addison Russell|
|Jose Ramirez||Ben Zobrist|
|OF||Lonnie Chisenhall||Albert Almora Jr.|
|Coco Crisp||Chris Coghlan|
|Rajai Davis||Dexter Fowler|
|Brandon Guyer||Jason Heyward|
|Tyler Naquin||Kyle Schwarber|
Play picks back up on Wednesday night as the former Cy Young winner Arrieta takes on Bauer.
Arrieta was 18-8 during the regular season with a 3.10 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his Cy defense, leading the Majors with just 6.3 hits allowed per nine innings while seeing his walk rate nearly double from last year’s mark at 3.5 this year. He also threw a career-high 16 wild pitches this season. He has yet to win in two starts in the postseason for the Cubs this year, taking a no-decision against the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS after giving up two runs on six hits in six innings and earning a loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers in one NLCS start when he allowed four runs on six hits in five innings. In his first playoff appearances last season, he was 2-1 in three starts, winning the NL Wild Card Game and a matchup in the NLDS before losing to the New York Mets in the NLCS.
All eyes will be on the right pinkie finger of Bauer, who exited just four batters into his only appearance in the ALCS against Toronto. Against Boston in the first round, he gave up three runs on six hits in four and two-thirds innings in a no-decision. During the regular season, he established a career-best with 12 wins against eight losses and worked 190 innings, striking out 168 while earning a 4.26 ERA and 1.31 WHIP.
Game 2 of the World Series is scheduled for an 8:00 PM ET start from Progressive Field.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images