The World Series starts Tuesday night. The Chicago Cubs will be taking on the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. The two longest droughts in baseball, and one of them will end this season. Which team will win the series this year?
Rachel Schaefer: The Cubs have been a favorite from day one. The Indians surprised everyone, which is far more impressive. They’ve lost their starting outfield to injury and PED suspensions. Their rotation is crippled and they’re still performing on the strength of their bullpen. They made history by becoming the first team ever to win a postseason game without having a pitcher go more than two innings (thanks in part to Trevor Bauer’s drones). Andrew Miller is proving he can be used in various situations, and his strikeout rate is something postseason baseball has never seen. He became one of only four relief pitchers to win the ALCS MVP. The Indians are giving Corey Kluber the ball for game one. They’re hoping Trevor Bauer is ready for game two, but he may be pushed back. They’re also expecting to see Danny Salazar return, in some capacity, for the World Series. The best offense is a good defense, and the Indians’ pitching is better than the Cubs throughout this postseason.
Stephanie Sheehan: In case it wasn’t already apparent, the Cubs’ offense is the most explosive in baseball. From top to bottom, they are absolutely stacked. Willson Contreras, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant are all batting above .300 with over 20 at-bats. Every single starter has gotten at least one RBI (yes, that includes Jason Heyward). And let’s not look past the pitching. Collectively, the pitchers have a 2.93 ERA and a WHIP of 1.09. While the Indians have had better pitching so far this postseason, the World Series is an entirely different game, and anything can happen. The Cubs’ pitching can be just as good as anyone else (see: Kyle Hendricks), and their comebacks in both Game 4 of the NLDS and in the NLCS overall against the Dodgers prove that an explosive offense and the tendency to play comeback kids really does give them the edge in this World Series.
Rachel: The Cubs have struggled in high pressure situations. Let’s not forget the NLCS last year when they were swept. Their rotation is without a doubt one of the best in the majors, and yes, Kyle Hendricks has been great. Yet Jake Arrieta is starting Game 2, and he’s been unremarkable at best (except for his offensive performance against Bumgarner). Pitching aside, the Indians have a strong amount of offense to back them up. Jason Kipnis sprained his ankle celebrating the ALCS victory, but he’s expected to be ready to go Tuesday night. Francisco Lindor has been performing this season and is going to continue to perform for this team for years to come. Tyler Naquin got his spot due to the missing outfielders and now he’s a solid Rookie of the Year candidate. The Indians have drafted well over the years. They also went for it at the trade deadline. Combined, this has built a strong team. We should also take time to point out that the Indians get home field advantage for the first two games, and the Cleveland fans want this title. Not only are they facing ending this drought, but that would make Cleveland champions in two major sporting events. With this advantage, the Indians should be able to come out on top.
Stephanie: Believe me, I will be the first person to bring up how the Cubs got swept in the NLCS last year (let’s go Mets, baby!), but that is not the case anymore. The 2016 Cubs are a completely different team. If they truly struggled in high-pressure situations, they would not have come back in Game 4, and they would not have jumped on Clayton Kershaw early in Game 6. They have an MVP candidate in Kris Bryant anchoring their offense, and now that he has finally helped lead his team-- the best team in baseball, by record-- to the World Series, I think the only pressure they will be facing is external. It’s impossible to ignore that the Cubs just made their first World Series since 1945. It’s impossible to ignore that a victory would break a 108-year drought. The way that home field advantage is set up, I think the Cubs actually have the advantage here. They were 46-34 on the road this year, and four of their postseason victories have come at the opposing team’s stadium. Even if they fall behind 2-0 in the series, which I do not foresee happening, going back to Chicago for three games is more than enough to get them pumped up. You think Cleveland fans want the title? I know Cubs fans want it more than anybody else. Believe me, I think Andrew Miller is one of, if not the best relief pitcher in baseball. But after Jeurys Familia gave up that home run in Game 1 of last year’s World Series, I am a firm believer that anything is possible. With how prone the Cubs offense is to catching fire, there is little doubt in my mind that if they can get even an extra base hit off of Miller, they will score. And they will not stop scoring until the curse is lifted.
Stephanie Sheehan is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @steph_sheehan.
Rachel Schaefer is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.