There’s no word yet on whether or not Terry Francona will station Carlos Santana in left field tonight, but the odds of the Cubs scoring a run against Cleveland don’t look any better with Corey Kluber on the mound. Kluber (18-9, 3.14 ERA) is pitching on short rest again after firing six rounds of shutout ball during Game 1 of the World Series. It’s become something of a routine for the right-hander: in four postseason starts and 24 1/3 innings pitched, he’s maintained 19 1/3 scoreless innings for three shutouts against the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Cubs.
The last time he ran into trouble, it was during Game 4 of the ALCS, when he gave up two runs in five innings against the Blue Jays and went on to lose the ballgame, 5-1. Not only was that his first start outside of Progressive Field, but it was his first appearance pitching on short rest during the 2016 postseason. Whether this bodes ill for the Indians’ ace in Game 4 remains to be seen, as the club still appears to have an advantage with their lights-out bullpen.
Opposite Kluber is Cubs’ right-hander John Lackey (11-8, 3.35 ERA), whose playoff experience spans the better part of 17 years with the Angels, Red Sox, and Cardinals. In 2016, Lackey is 2-for-2 in the postseason with Game 4 starts in the NLDS and NLCS. Suppressing runs hasn’t been Lackey’s strong suit, however, and his early departure in both games forced the Cubs to rely both on their bullpen and a strong offensive drive.
The Cubs are still the Best Team in Baseball, and regaining some of their momentum should be easier to do in the electric atmosphere of a postseason Wrigley Field. Whether Corey Kluber delivers his fourth postseason shutout or Kyle Schwarber knocks in the game-winning win, one thing is guaranteed: if certain ticket resale sites can be believed, you’ll still have to pay through the nose to see it happen.