Cubs Must Contend With Indians’ Bullpen, Speed

Chicago Cubs players celebrate
Chicago Cubs players celebrate after Game 6 of the National League baseball championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Chicago. The Cubs won 5-0 to win the series and advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. David J. Phillip / Associated Press
Chicago Cubs players celebrate
Chicago Cubs players celebrate after Game 6 of the National League baseball championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Chicago. The Cubs won 5-0 to win the series and advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Cubs Must Contend With Indians’ Bullpen, Speed

Through goats, black cats and the mockery of the media and sports fans around the globe. Through good teams, bad teams and really bad teams. Millions of Cubs fans waited patiently for three generations, continuing to believe that someday they would say the words, “The Cubs are in the World Series!” 

That time is now after the Cubs, behind pitcher Kyle Hendricks, sent the Dodgers packing and propelled the ballclub to a date with destiny against the Cleveland Indians. 

WBEZ sports contributor Cheryl Raye-Stout joined Morning Shift Monday to field listener calls and explained what it will take for the Cubs to defeat the Indians and become baseball's champions for the first time in 108 years. 

“They’re going to be facing a Cleveland Indians team that’s riding pretty high right now,” Raye-Stout said. “They’ve had several days rest because they were able to wrap up with Toronto pretty early.”

The Indians clinched their spot in the World Series three days before the Cubs after their game five victory over the Toronto Blue Jays last Wednesday.

On Cleveland’s Starting Pitching: 'Interesting'

“Their starting pitcher Corey Kluber—who’s going to start Tuesday night—is a Cy Young winner,” Raye-Stout said, referencing baseball’s award for the best pitcher in his respective league. Kluber won the American League Cy Young award in 2014.

But beyond Kluber, Raye-Stout said Cleveland’s starting rotation looks “interesting.”

Cleveland’s scheduled game two starter, Trevor Bauer, is a bit of an unknown after he “strangely cut his pinkie finger while he was working on his drone,” Raye-Stout said. Bauer was forced to leave game three of the American League Championship Series in the first inning after the cut opened up and his finger started to bleed.

Raye-Stout said another injured player might also affect the team. Cleveland starting pitcher Danny Salazar recently experienced forearm issues and has not pitched since Sept. 9, Raye-Stout said, but he might be available in time for the World Series.

On Cleveland’s Bullpen: 'The Best Bullpen In Baseball'

Shortly after Chicago acquired closer Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees, Cleveland picked up reliever Andrew Miller from the Yankees just before baseball’s midsummer trade deadline.

Miller was named the most valuable player of the ALCS last week after striking out 14 of the 26 Blue Jay batters he faced over four games.

“That is the toughest bullpen they’re going to face,” Raye-Stout said. “So the Cubs want to get after their starting pitchers and chase them out of the game.”

On Cleveland’s Offense: ‘A Team That Is Going To Run’

“They’re the team that has the most stolen bases in the American League this year,” Raye-Stout said. Cleveland stole 134 bases in the regular season. The Cubs stole 66.

Raye-Stout said Cubs game one starter Jon Lester could be particularly vulnerable to Cleveland’s speed. 

“This is a team that is going to run on Jon Lester because they know he does not handle baserunners that well and the fact that he does not like throwing to first,” Raye-Stout said.

Another Cleveland player to keep an eye on? Second baseman Jason Kipnis, who is from Northbrook, Illinois and grew up a Cubs fan. Kipnis was third on his team in both hits and home runs.

“This is going to be a challenge for the Cubs pitching staff but I think they can overcome that,” Raye-Stout said.

Click on the ‘Play’ button above to listen to the entire segment.