A day after Andrew Miller showed his greatness, the Cleveland Indians had to face the Chicago Cubs’ most dominant reliever in Aroldis Chapman.
The Cleveland Indians followed the perfect formula to a victory in Game 1 of the World Series over the Chicago Cubs. Corey Kluber got through six innings, while Andrew Miller and Cody Allen combined for the final three, completing the shutout of the Cubs.
This is not something that can be followed every game, but it has happened so much this postseason it seems like a regular occurrence. Just get the starter through five or six and pass the ball to Miller, only that is much easier on paper than in the World Series.
It did not work out in Game 2, as Trevor Bauer only made it 3 2/3 innings, leaving the game with a 2-0 deficit. Six others appeared in the game, but there was never a spot for Miller to enter as the team never held a lead.
For the Cubs, it was their own personal winning formula. Jake Arrieta went 5 2/3 innings, passing the ball to Mike Montgomery, who went two innings. The lefty surely reminded Indians fans of Miller as he struck out four and threw 40 pitches.
Then another lefty arrived when Aroldis Chapman entered the game, all but ending the Indians’ hopes of a comeback. His fastball continually hits triple digits, and while his control can be an issue at times, he can take a bit off and still hit 99 on the radar gun, causing hitters to flail at the ball in hopes of mere contact.
As with Miller, the stats surrounding Chapman are impressive, but his velocity is what sets him apart. Like Miller and his wipeout slider, Chapman’s fastball is almost too fast to register in one’s brain.
He forms a dominant trio, along with Montgomery and whoever starts for the Cubs, giving both teams a similar weapon to use if the offense can do its job.
The Cubs failed to do that in Game 1, while the Indians had similar problems in Game 2. This series may be decided by the pitching of either Chapman or Miller, depending on whose team has a lead heading into the later innings. If the game is tied, they can still have an impact, holding the score.
But as both teams know, early leads must be gained to avoid facing either pitcher. The Indians need to get a lead by the fifth or sixth inning not just to avoid Chapman, but to allow Miller to do his job and pitch a dominant two innings. It is easier said than done, but the sight of Chapman may spell doom for the Indians, while the sight of Miller will do the same for the Cubs.