Tonights matchup of the starting pitchers for Game 1 of the World Series, the Indians Cory Kluber and Cubs Jon Lester will put enormous pressure on the hitters of both teams. They will be facing two of the best pitchers in baseball over the past few years. Both are capable of shutting down opposing teams for long stretches in a game.
Kluber has that amazing ability to add and subtract speeds on everything he throws and is consistent with throwing out of the same arm slot on all his pitches. Very good mound presence, cool as a cucumber. I remember the first time I saw him at Yankee Stadium on June 5th, 2013. He gave up two home runs and six runs, four earned in the first two innings. But he pitched four more innings that day and along with 8 strikeouts against the then first place Yankees he showed something special in his makeup.
After that, Kluber kept getting better and better becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball. He is tough and not afraid of anything. On the other hand, Lester has great command of all his pitches and has been in these big games before. He knows how to win and will be tough. He is capable of taking his pitching to a higher level in this series.
There has been lots of talk about how the Indians will steal like crazy on him. Has anyone noticed Willson Contreras throwing guys out at second base and picking them off second? Holy smokes is he special. But, someone will break through and get the first hit, steal the first base, score the first run and make the first error.
The hitters will have to get over all the hype and get into their game thinking. I’m looking for who will get hot and who will go stone cold. The Indians could start out slow after not seeing competitive pitching for six days. They need to find their rhythm and find it fast. But to balance that off, the Indian pitchers, especially the bullpen, has had a needed rest. That along with a home field advantage could make this series very close.
By the way, when is Major League Baseball going to stop with this home field advantage in the World Series decided by the winning league in an All Star game that has become a joke?
The players are more interested in the home run derby and most of the best players don’t show up. Home field advantage or not, the Cubs are ready to show just how good they are and want to give their fans a life long memory of winning it at Wrigley Field. That will not be easy.
Look for Andrew Miller in the 5th, 6th, and 9th innings. Aroldis Chapman is the interesting one for me. If given the ball with a lead in the ninth, he is a monster.
If Cubs manager Joe Maddon tries to use him sooner than that, he could be scored on. Maddon and Indians manager Terry Francona will be influential in this series more than managers in the past few World Series. By the way Francona is 8-0 as a manager in the World Series. Hey, lets just leave the past in the past. It is game one of a new series. Anything can happen and will. Forget about the 108 years. This is one of the times the event will live up to the hype.
Note: I have to apologize for something I incorrectly wrote yesterday. I stated that Cleveland last won the World Series in 1948 and that was the last time they were in the series. That is wrong as they were in the series in 1954, (Willie Mays “The Catch”), 1995 and last in 1997.
Editor’s Note: William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and last week completed his third season as an associate advanced scout with the Atlanta Braves organization.