The 2016 World Series is quickly shaping up to look like one of the most intriguing in a long time.
On the American League side, the Blue Jays from North of the border are duking it out with the LeBron-sponsored Cleveland Indians while the fan-favorite mighty Chicago Cubs are locked in a deathmatch with the formidable Dodgers and their absolute monster Clayton Kershaw.
For the American League, both ALDS series were beyond boring as the ALCS teams destroyed their opponents (Red Sox and Rangers) and have moved on to play one another with their respective lineups mired in huge offensive slumps. Over the two games, the Indians have scored four runs while the Jays have their lineup on life support with an impressive showing of 1 run in 18 innings. Andrew Miller and the boys have done a helluva job punching tickets against the Blue Jays as they combine for 27 strikeouts in the two games.
On the National League side, the Dodgers and Nationals fought with all their strength with Los Angeles eventually coming out on top thanks to clutch hitting, great defense, and a historic pitching performance out of the bullpen by Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw himself.
The Cubs had an explosive series filled with drama against the even-year-magical Giants and their horse Madison Bumgarner. Starting out with hard-hitting pitchers and a clutch Javier Baez, the Cubs played back-to-back tough games in San Francisco before a historic four-run-ninth-inning off the Giants bullpen.
The NLCS is as good as it gets as the Dodgers square off against the Cubs in a best-of-seven format. The Cubs win Game One thanks to Miguel Montero as the Dodgers tab, for Game 2, Clayton Kershaw off two-day rest after throwing 6 high-leverage pitches on Game 5 in the NLDS to save their season. All eyes will be on the Dodger-Cubs series as the World Series approaches.
With the four Championship Series teams decided, we will break down the four possible matchups, from most likely to happen to least likely to happen, and predict their outcomes.
No. 1 Most Likely to Happen: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians
The Chicago Cubs, leading 1-0, look easily like the best team in baseball, as they’ve always been throughout the season, combining scoring prowess and good defense with potentially the best pitching staff around.
Aroldis Chapman is back to throwing heat and nailing down saves while giving up inherited runs while the offense is as timely as it’s ever been. Kyle Hendrick’s crafty repertoire lines up well against the Indians while Jake Arrieta’s power stuff can shut anybody down.
Jon Lester, however, is the most consistently reliable one as he is Bumgarner-esque in the postseason. They are very likely to reach the World Series and are hands-down the favorites heading in.
The Cleveland Indians are a near-lock to finish up the Jays. However, they have struggled with
However, they have struggled with offense as pitching has carried them to a 5-0 record in playoff baseball. Corey Kluber has shown Cy Young worthy stuff with the rest of the rotation doing their fair share and much more. Andrew Miller is untouchable and it does not look fun facing him.
I believe that the Cubs would do extremely well against the Indians because of their rather lackluster offense and a frequently overused duo of Miller and Cody Allen. Because of their lack of rotational depth, the Miller and Allen have had to carry an immense workload and it does not seem sustainable.
The rest of their bullpen is not nearly as good as the two relief aces and are much more likely to choke up leads late in the game.
Knowing what we know now, the combo of Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer can easily be teed off by the Cubs. While Aroldis Chapman is also used very frequently, the Cubs have workhorses that have the ability to shut out any team, anytime, especially the struggling Indians. As long as they hit better, as shown in Game One of the NLCS, the Cubs should fare very well.
Prediction: Cubs in 4.
No. 2 Most Likely to Happen: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cleveland Indians
As stated above, the Indians are almost a lock to make it to the World Series because no team has ever come back from a 0-2 deficit in the Championship Series except for the magical 2004 Red Sox. Are the Blue Jays the team of Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz in his prime, and Curt Schilling? No.
Therefore, there is almost no chance that the Jays walk out of the ALCS winners over the Indians.
The Dodgers are a worse team than the Cubs but it is not impossible for them to make it to the World Series. Any game started by Clayton Kershaw features a great chance of winning and the offense, while not as robust as that of the Cubs, is relentless and features great veteran hitters like Adrian Gonzalez and rising stars such as Corey Seager. The bullpen is underrated, deep, and balanced throughout front and back.
Prediction: Dodgers in 6.
It won’t be easy, but the Dodgers will fight with all hands on deck. Indians lineup, struggling against a mediocre Toronto staff, will be no match for Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw.
Sorry, Cleveland fans (the chief executive of this very website is a huge Indians fan), I just don’t see how this ridiculous pitching performance can sustain.
No. 3 Most Likely to Happen: Toronto Blue Jays v.s Chicago Cubs
Now, this most likely won’t happen.
However, let’s say that the Blue Jays miraculously come back and face off against the Cubs, what happens?
Prediction: Blue Jays in 7
Yup. The Blue Jays, in my humble opinion, are the only team that can beat the Cubs. It might seem impossible, but I have my reasons.
- The Blue Jays have to overcome a 0-2 deficit against Cleveland to move on to the Fall Classic. That’s only ever been done once in history.
2. Since it is borderline impossible, any team that pulls through any circumstances will have an adrenaline rush that carries them thoughout the World Series. Some intangibles just can’t be quantified and I truly believe in that.
3. When the Jays are hot, with their middle-of-the-lineup bats like Bautista, Donaldson, and Encarnacion, they are hot. When they get in a groove and start hitting well, it is very hard to stop them no matter who is pitching. The players around them are also very gifted with the bat. Tulowitzki, Martin, and Michael Saunders all had above-average offensive years.
4. The Jays are a fly-ball hitting team, while the Cubs are a fly-ball-inducing team with power pitchers up and down the staff. When the wind is blowing hard is Chicago, balls carry well.
Remember, the Blue Jays finished off the best team in the American League in the Texas Rangers in three games like it was nothing.
The Cubs are arguably a very similar team compared to the Rangers with their regular-season excellence, strong one-two punch in the rotation (Rangers have Hamels and Darvish), and athletic infielders up the middle. The Rangers looked as if they were going to demolish the Wild-Card Jays, and what happened?
The Jays have No. 3 starters throughout the entire rotation and it would not be impossible to see the Cubs lineup get shut out by them.
No. 4 Most Likely to Happen: Toronto Blue Jays v.s Los Angeles Dodgers
This matchup is almost impossible.
However, it is still worthy for a breakdown.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are headlined by Clayton Kershaw, A-Gon, Justin Turner and Corey Seager while the Blue Jays have hard-hitting sluggers up and down the lineup. Kershaw can shut down any lineup anytime he wants, but what about the rest of the starters?
Do you think soft-tossing Kenta Maeda will do well against the likes of Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion? Does lefty Rich Hill have a chance? Do the lefties in the Dodgers bullpen (Avilan, Dayton, Urias) match up well against the slugging Blue Jays right-handers?
It is hard to see how Kenta Maeda can dominate the Jays, whose adrenaline from an ALCS victory against Andrew Miller and the Indians will cary them into the clouds, full speed as they fly into Chavez Ravine.
Like I’ve said many times, I don’t want to make predictions in this article, but I believe that if the Toronto Blue Jays overcome all odds and defeat the Indians in the ALCS, no one will be able to stop them from winning the World Series.
Prediction: Blue Jays in 6