Cleveland Indians: Breaking Down the Pitching Matchup with the Cubs

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Oct 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game four of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game four of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game four of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game four of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs reached the World Series in large part because of their pitching. Who will the two clubs be giving the ball to, and how do the two staffs compare?

With the World Series getting started Tuesday night, there have been many pieces written in the baseball media analyzing how the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs got to this point. The answer is as simple and as old as the game itself: great pitching.

The Indians and Cubs had two of the best pitching staffs in the league during the regular season, and in the postseason they have only gotten better.

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Cleveland silenced the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series, holding the highest-scoring team in Major League Baseball in 2016 to just seven runs in three games.

They then followed that up by allowing a mere eight runs in five games to the Toronto Blue Jays in the League Championship Series, a club with the reigning AL MVP and a host of sluggers throughout its lineup.

What has been most impressive is the manner in which the Indians’ hurlers have done this in light of the injuries the staff has sustained.

Manager Terry Francona has been masterful in squeezing what he has needed out of his starters and orchestrating his bullpen to shorten and win games. By utilizing his best bullpen arms in the highest-leverage situations, regardless of how early or late in the game, the Tribe’s skipper has turned conventional baseball wisdom on its head.

Chicago has gotten good pitching as well, though it has experienced a few more rough spots. In ten postseason games, the Cubs have yielded 30 runs, but the majority of those have come in just half the team’s postseason games. Manager Joe Maddon has seen his staff allow two runs or fewer in five games, including two shutouts.

There is a perceived advantage for Chicago entering the Fall Classic in that its starting rotation is healthy and intact. Cleveland has been without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar in the postseason, though the club’s healthy starters have contributed to an MLB-best 1.77 Earned Run Average in October.

This World Series is likely to turn on more than just pitching, but neither the Indians nor the Cubs would be in this position if it weren’t for the quality of their respective mound corps. If both sides continue to pitch as they have, this could be as low-scoring and tightly-contested a Fall Classic as we’ve seen in years.

Let’s take a look at how the two staffs match up.

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