After a razor-thin 1-0 loss on Friday night, the Cubs turn to experience to try regain their home-field advantage. It won’t be easy, as the Indians are turning to a recent Cy Young winner who has been nearly impossible to solve this postseason. Check ’em out!
Corey Kluber (CLE) versus John Lackey (CHC)
8:00 p.m. ET, FOX
It may be a little ballsy to go to Kluber on three days rest for Game 4, but pretty much no matter how you slice it, it’s also defensible. Had the Indians lost on Friday night, it would have made sense to throw your best out there to try steal one at Wrigley and at least get the series back to Cleveland. Now, since the Indians won Game 3, Terry Francona can go for the jugular with a 3-1 lead, with the Tribe needing to win only one of a possible three remaining games to bring Cleveland its first World Series crown since 1948—11 years before Francona was even born. Basically speaking, to win the World Series the Indians needed at least one win in a non-Kluber start, and they got it on Friday. As for Kluber himself, hitters had better pack a lunch; he’s held them to a .193 batting average this postseason with a 0.74 ERA (two earned in 24.1 innings) with 29 strikeouts and just seven walks. If his sinker is dancing like it did in Game 1, it’s going to be a long night for the Cubs offense.
The Cubs in turn are going to Lackey, a veteran of 135.1 postseason innings who hasn’t been exactly sharp this October. The Cubs have won both the games he’s pitched, but he’s failed to record an out in the fifth inning in either, instead relying heavily on a solid bullpen to help seal the deal. It’s an uphill battle against Kluber, but like Hendricks, Lackey has been markedly better at home (2.62 ERA) than on the road (4.37) this season. Opposing batters hit just .207/.261/.340 against Lackey after the All-Star break, and he’s hoping some of that second-half mojo will rub off on tonight. It wouldn’t be surprising to have another 1-0 game. This series feels like it’s almost destined to go seven games, doesn’t it?