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As the NLCS shifts back to Chicago with the Cubs leading the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2, the Cleveland Indians await the winner in the 114th World Series.
After taking Game 5 of the ALCS over the Toronto Blue Jays for the American League pennant on Wednesday, the Indians guaranteed that they would have over five days to rest for the Fall Classic, while the winner of the NLCS will experience a much quicker turnaround:
|1||TBD||NL Champion||Cleveland Indians||FOX|
|2||TBD||NL Champion||Cleveland Indians||FOX|
|3||TBD||Cleveland Indians||NL Champion||FOX|
|4||TBD||Cleveland Indians||NL Champion||FOX|
|5||TBD||Cleveland Indians||NL Champion||FOX|
|6||TBD||NL Champion||Cleveland Indians||FOX|
|7||TBD||NL Champion||Cleveland Indians||FOX|
The Indians are two years older than the World Series, having been established in 1901 under the name of the Blues. After short stints where they were known as the Broncos and Naps after Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie, they became known as the Indians in 1915.
Five years later, they won their first World Series, defeating the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) in 1920.
The franchise would get a second title 28 years later in 1948, defeating the Boston Braves with a roster that included five players that were elected to the Hall of Fame:
That win 68 years ago would prove to be their last triumph despite making three World Series’ since then. In 1954, they were swept by Willie Mays and the New York Giants and didn’t make another Fall Classic until 1995.
They would lose to an Atlanta Braves team headlined by a trio of Hall of Fame pitchers in Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine before losing a heartbreaking seven-game World Series in 1997 to a Florida Marlins franchise that was in its fifth year of existence:
But this season’s Indians could put an end to the wait and provide the city of Cleveland with a second major sports championship in the same calendar year. It’d be a benchmark season for a group of fans that hadn’t celebrated a title since 1964 before the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
The Indians have provided one of the deepest lineups in baseball this season to support a banged up pitching staff that lost Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar during the regular season before seeing Trevor Bauer slice his pinky open while cleaning his drone right before the ALCS:
But the offense has struggled at times during the playoffs, averaging just under 3.4 runs per game while posting a .208 team batting average.
Luckily for them, the pitching has been dominant in the postseason:
|Toronto Blue Jays||9||5-4||2.52||24|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||10||5-5||4.70||50|
|San Francisco Giants||5||2-3||2.87||17|
|Boston Red Sox||3||0-3||5.04||15|
|New York Mets||1||0-1||3.00||3|
It’s been headlined by ALCS MVP Andrew Miller, who has given up just three hits in 7.2 innings pitched while striking out 14 batters.
SportsCenter broke down just how tough he’s been in October:
ALCS MVP Andrew Miller has been unhittable. pic.twitter.com/3d0oEsZfib
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 20, 2016
That kind of hot pitching is the key to an Indians World Series, as the Cubs and Dodgers are two of three teams that have scored over 30 runs during the postseason.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.