After dropping Game 2 of the World Series in a 5-1 defeat, home field advantage has now escaped the possession of the Cleveland Indians. With the series relocated to Chicago’s Wrigley Field, the Cubs have three home contests left and the Indians have two, with the first team to win three of the next five games crowned the champions of the baseball world.
After giving Corey Kluber sufficient run support in a 6-0 Game 1 win over the Cubs, the offense went cold in Wednesday’s second game of the series against right-hander Jake Arrieta, who flirted with a no-hitter until the middle innings. Cleveland’s lone run scored after its first hit, a double by Jason Kipnis, and a wild pitch later in the inning. Seven Indians pitchers (including starter Trevor Bauer) combined to allow five runs on nine hits with eight walks, and two errors from the defense aided the Cubs cause.
The Indians cannot afford mistakes against a strong offensive club like that of the Cubs and in Game 2, it cost them. They will have to be much more refined if they want to tilt the series back in their favor and force a return to Cleveland’s Progressive Field for at least one more game.
GAME TIMES and PITCHING PROBABLES
Tuesday, 10/25/16 – Chicago 0, Cleveland 6
Wednesday, 10/26/16 – Chicago 5, Cleveland 1
Friday, 10/28/16 (8:00 PM ET at CHI) –RHP Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13)
Saturday, 10/29/16 (8:00 at CHI) – RHP Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14) 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
If you haven’t watched Cubs baseball over the last couple of years, it would have been easy to look past Hendricks in their rotation. This season, he did everything he could to make sure people knew his name.
Hendricks ended the season the ERA champion of Major League Baseball, posting a 2.13 mark for the year. His record wasn’t shabby either – he went 16-8 in 31 games (30 starts) with a pair of complete games and a shutout. He worked 190 innings, ten more than a season ago, and saw improvements in his WHIP (0.98), hits/9 (6.7), homers/9 (0.7), and walks/9 (2.1) versus the previous season. Opposing hitters batted just .207 against him.
After earning decisions in just 15 of his 32 appearances last season, he was heavily involved in the final outcome of the game more than three-fourths of the time. He made quality starts in two-thirds of his times out and the Cubs were 19-11 overall in his starts.
Working against the Indians’ favor is that the game will take place at Wrigley Field. Hendricks was notably better at home than on the road, posting a 9-2 record with a 1.32 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 15 games (14 starts) with both of his complete games and his shutout. On the road, Hendricks was 7-6 this season in 16 starts with a 2.95 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, nothing to scoff at.
CLEVELAND VS. HENDRICKS
Hendricks will be a complete unknown for the Indians lineup. The 26-year-old right-hander has never faced the Indians in his career. Only Coco Crisp has stepped into the box with him during their Major League careers, and he went hitless in three plate appearances overall.
While not necessarily a comparable measuring stick, Hendricks is 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA in nine career interleague starts. Those overall numbers are deceiving as well, however, as he went 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in three of those appearances this season (against the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s, and Texas Rangers).
The 32-year-old right-hander set numerous personal bests in his seventh MLB season with the Indians in 2016. He made more appearances and starts than he had ever made and pitched eight and two-thirds innings more than he did back in 2011 when he made 26 starts for the Tribe.
He went 13-9 on the year with a 4.40 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, walking just 20 batters and striking out a career-best 118 in his 174 innings of work.
Tomlin had an up-and-down year at times, especially in August when things got noticeably bad for the veteran righty. He seems to have fixed that problem over the last two months, keeping the ball in the yard and out of the gaps while keeping free runs off of the bases.
CHICAGO VS. TOMLIN
Just one member of the Cubs lineup has had an extensive look at Tomlin in their respective careers. Ben Zobrist, from his days in the Tampa Bay and Kansas City lineups, has 21 plate appearances against Tomlin, but the Tribe starter has gotten the better of him. Zobrist is just 2-for-19 (.105) against him with a double and a solo homer. He has walked twice and struck out three times.
This is the second season of postseason work for Hendricks, who made two starts last season for the Cubs in the Division and Championship Series. He earned a no-decision in his start against the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS this season, lasting just three and two-thirds innings while allowing two runs on four hits. He was substantially better in two starts in the NLCS, going 1-1 despite a 0.71 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. He allowed just one run (via homer) on five hits in 12 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out eleven. He pitched a combined two-hit shutout with Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 of the series to send the Cubs to the World Series.
Tomlin will make his third Major League postseason appearance in Game 3, and will do so in front of his father at Wrigley Field (a story worth reading about if you are unfamiliar with the particulars). He has started a game in each of the previous two series for the Tribe, winning each outing. In the American League Division Series in Boston, he won the clinching Game 3 when he worked five innings, allowed two runs on four hits, walked one, and struck out four. He made a Game 2 start in the American League Championship Series in Boston and worked five and two-thirds innings, giving up just one run on three hits with an uncharacteristic two walks and six strikeouts. It will be his third road start in the playoffs, which may play to his strengths – he was 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 15 games at home and 8-4 with a 4.31 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 15 starts away from home this season.
Things will pick back up where they left off on Saturday night as Game 4 of the series will take place again from Wrigley Field as a pair of veteran right-handers match up in Lackey and Kluber.
Lackey, in his 14th season and pitching at the age of 38, was 11-8 for the Cubs during the regular season with a 3.35 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 29 starts. Already a winner of two World Series with the Angels and Red Sox, he will look to take home a third ring this season. He is 2-1 in his career pitching in the World Series with a 3.42 ERA in six games (four starts). In the playoffs this season, he has not been as sharp in two starts, giving up five runs on ten hits with five walks and seven strikeouts in eight innings of work, good for a 5.62 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP.
The 30-year-old Kluber will make his second Major League start on short rest and will do so in the biggest game of his career to date. His last outing with three days between starts was in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. While he made his shortest and worst start of the postseason in the outing, it was hardly a bad one – he allowed his only two runs in the playoffs so far on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in five innings of work. He is 3-1 in his postseason career with a 0.74 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He has 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 24 1/3 innings of work.
Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for just after 8:00 PM ET.
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