We’ve reached the witching hour, where getting the series back to Cleveland is not only preferable, but paramount to the Cubs’ chances of winning the dang thing. One day after the Indians sent out their big-game pitcher to give them a 3-1 lead, the Cubs will do the same to try get back into the series and force it to a Game 6. Cleveland counters with an unproven righty with big-time talent but not much of a track record. Check ’em out!
Trevor Bauer (CLE) versus Jon Lester (CHC)
8:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Bauer has not been sharp this postseason—oh, the directions you could go with that phrasing—and that continued into the World Series, as he pitched the Game 2 loss against Jake Arrieta, going just 3.2 innings with two earned runs on six hits with two walks and strikeouts. Outside of the buzz of the drone stuff, there’s just been more bark than bite from Bauer this October. He hasn’t completed five innings in any start, and for the postseason has a 5.00 ERA, 1.78 WHIP and a batting average against of .324. To Bauer’s credit, he’s been a better pitcher on the road (3.67 ERA) than at home (4.73) this season, but he pitched markedly worse after the All-Star break (5.36 ERA, .791 OPS against) than before it (3.30, .639). Now would be a good time for a career-altering good start.
Lester fell flat against Corey Kluber in the opener of the series, tossing just 5.2 innings while allowing three earned runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Let’s re-frame it this way: Lester allowed more earned runs to the Indians in Game 1 (three) than he had in the rest of the postseason combined (two) in his previous three starts spanning 21 innings. In a lot of ways this just hasn’t been the Cubs’ series, and it got off on the wrong foot with Lester’s start in the opener. Now he’s got time to atone for that, and get the series to Cleveland and into the hands of Arrieta to try force a pivotal Game 7. But first, Lester has to force a Game 6. Lester’s been a lot better at home (1.74 ERA) than on the road (3.17), but get this: so too were Kyle Hendricks (Game 3) starter and John Lackey (Game 4), and Cleveland didn’t care too much about that, either. This is going to be an incredible game, and if it’s the end of the season, thanks for following along!