October 26, 2016
PECOTA Odds and World Series Game 2 Preview
PECOTA odds of winning: 62% Cubs, 38% Indians
Projected Starting Lineups
After facing left-hander Jon Lester in Game 1, the Indians will switch up their alignment in Game 2 against right-hander Jake Arrieta. Rajai Davis and Brandon Guyer will take a seat in favor of Coco Crisp and Tyler Naquin. Carlos Santana moves to the top of the lineup after batting fifth versus Lester.
With the Cubs facing another righty, their lineup should more or less look the same against Bauer in Game 2. Montero is Arrieta's preferred catcher, so David Ross takes a seat. Jason Heyward is penciled in instead of Chris Coghlan, but it is anyone's guess who plays in the Cubs final outfield slot tonight. It could be Willson Contreras.
The Cubs didn't push anyone in their bullpen in Game 1, with the exception of Justin Grimm, so the back end of their pen should be fresh. Andrew Miller threw 46 pitches in Game 1, so while he could pitch tonight it's unlikely that he goes deep for a second consecutive outing.
As my colleague Bryan Grosnick pointed out in his Game 1 preview, last night's game was more of a must-win for Cleveland than it was for Chicago. While it felt like a convincing victory for the Tribe, the Cubs are far from done in this series.
Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller dominated, but the Indians won't have the advantage of Kluber in Game 2 and might not have the advantage of multiple innings from Miller. Trevor Bauer is a solid pitcher when he's on, but we still do not have any idea whether he'll be able to give the Indians 90-100 pitches. Last night's win certainly gives Cleveland at least a break-even chance to win the series, but it would be a fool's errand to count out the Cubs because of one bad game.
Where PECOTA saw Game 1 slightly favoring the Indians, it sees Game 2 tilting significantly in the Cubs' favor. Arrieta had his issues during the regular season and his NLCS outing against the Dodgers was nothing to write home about but on paper he is a superior option to Bauer. Arrieta doesn't need to be the Cy Young-winning version of himself in order to shut down the Indians, but he will need to have a semblance of command and avoid high pitch counts early.
Last night, we saw the Indians at their best and the Cubs at their worst. But momentum is a chimera and destiny an illusion. The Cubs weren't heavily favored in this series without cause, and tonight's matchup illustrates why the Cubs are so dangerous. Without Kluber's elite stuff and without a clear edge on the mound, the Cubs' strength up and down the lineup is formidable. The starter-to-Miller-to-Allen formula cannot be denied, but if Terry Francona has to rely on Bauer/other relievers/Allen tonight, it won't have quite the same impact.