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World Series Reset: Indians vs. Cubs Game 5

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The Game: Cleveland Indians @ Chicago Cubs, World Series Game 5
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Trevor Bauer (Indians) vs. Jon Lester (Cubs)

The Upshot:

It all comes down to this. The Indians will either clinch their championship title or watch the Cubs force the series back to Cleveland for Game 6, with the potential for a nail-biting Game 7 finish on Wednesday. While it has no bearing on the Cubs’ chances this year, it’s worth noting that Chicago has dropped five of six World Series that have gone to at least six games, excepting a 3-3-1 tie in 1885 that, barring a considerable change of heart from Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, is unlikely to repeat itself in 2016.

Left-hander Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) gets the ball for the Cubs on Sunday after going 5 2/3 innings during the Indians’ 6-0 blowout in Game 1 of the World Series. Elsewhere in the postseason, he’s been nearly untouchable, holding opponents to two runs, two walks, and a .189 average while striking out 14 batters over 21 innings.

For the Indians, it’s Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA), who will follow Corey Kluber as the second Cleveland pitcher to make a start on short rest in the 2016 World Series. Bauer appeared in Game 2 of the series, expending 87 pitches, two runs, two walks, and two strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings as the Indians fell to the Cubs, 5-1. Unlike Lester, Bauer’s postseason has been a rocky one. Injuries and the usual case of playoff jitters have produced a 5.00 ERA in October, and the right-hander has yet to pitch past the fourth inning in any of his starts.

At the plate, the Indians have proven themselves more than capable of handling the Cubs’ starters. Francisco Lindor turned heads on Saturday, reaching base twice and becoming the youngest player to reach seven multi-hit games in the postseason (per MLB Stat of the Day). Big knocks from Carlos Santana, Coco Crisp, and Jason Kipnis have also proved key in the Indians’ three World Series wins, while some of the Cubs’ hottest hitters coming into the Fall Classic (breakout star Javier Baez, MVP candidate Kris Bryant) have found their efforts repeatedly stymied by the Indians’ pitching staff.

Should the Cubs press Bauer’s weaknesses for a late-series comeback, they’ll send Jake Arrieta against Josh Tomlin on Tuesday, with the possibility of a Corey Kluber-Kyle Hendricks finale on Wednesday. Neither Tomlin nor Kluber will have the benefit of pitching on regular rest, which could give the Cubs the edge they need to take the series.

For now, however, they just need to focus on getting through Game 5.

Blake Snell becomes client of Boras Corporation

Blake Snell
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Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic report that Rays starter Blake Snell has switched agencies, going from Apex Baseball to Boras Corporation. Snell is currently signed to a five-year, $50 million contract and will be under contract through 2023.

Snell found himself in hot water two weeks ago when he said on his Twitch stream that he wouldn’t risk his life to play baseball during a pandemic while receiving significantly reduced pay. Some described Snell as tone deaf for saying, “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, okay?”

Boras represents many of baseball’s highest-paid players, including Gerrit Cole and Bryce Harper. Snell is not likely to win over any of the people he recently irritated by appearing to go after more money by hiring the highest-profile agent. What often goes unsaid is that players have a very limited window in which to use their elite athletic skills to make money.

Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 221/64 K/BB ratio over 180 2/3 innings. He did not have nearly the same success last year, going 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA and a 147/40 K/BB ratio in 107 innings.