The PHOENIX assistant sports editor Henry Redman, an Indians fan, and staff writer Nick Schultz, a Cubs fan, discuss the most intriguing match-ups of this year’s World Series.
Henry Redman: This has been one of the most evenly matched series in a while. According to a tweet by Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, Jose Fernandez once said these were the best two lineups he had ever faced. Weeks after Fernandez’ death, it’s fitting that these two teams meet in the Fall Classic. What are some of the match-ups you’ve liked?
Nick Schultz: This is honestly tough. These teams are so evenly matched that it’s a challenge to pick a few match-ups. I think the Cubs handled Andrew Miller well in game one, despite not getting any runs.
HR: The one issue with Miller is that he can get a little wild, which helped the Cubs load the bases with no outs in Game 1. One thing to keep an eye on is the Cubs’ ability to hit a ball with spin; all of the Indians’ pitchers spin the ball really well and it has been a weakness for the Cubs all year.
NS: I’m hoping to see the Cubs make adjustments to start seeing the spin on the ball. The approach they need to take is to look for a fastball, and adjust to the breaking ball. If they do that, they might have a better shot against the Indians pitching. That strategy would also help them to only swing at strikes. The way the Indians get the Cubs’ batters out is by throwing breaking balls that start in the strike zone and finish out of the zone, making Cubs hitters try to do too much. If the Cubs make the Indians’ pitchers throw strikes, they’ll have a better shot at the plate.
HR: In Game 1 and 3, the Indians’ pitchers were throwing their fastballs for strikes, but they were just locating them well. Most of Kluber’s strikeouts were looking. His two-seamer moves so much it’s hard to pull the trigger. And Tomlin just hits his spots well. He knows he can’t blow it by anyone. But enough about pitching; two of the brightest young players in the game have been playing extremely well this postseason. Francisco Lindor and Javier (Javy) Baez, two Puerto Ricans who grew up together in Florida, have have really stepped up this postseason. What do you like from them?
NS: There is so much to like about both of them. I’ll start with Baez, only because I’ve seen him play more than Lindor. What I like about Javy is his ability to adjust to situations. In the NLCS, there was a soft line drive hit to him that would have been a routine play. Instead, he let it bounce to turn it into a 4-6-3 double play because he saw the runner on first standing there thinking the ball would be caught. The guy seems to do it all on both sides of the ball, considering he was named co-NLCS MVP.
HR: I like Baez a lot. Both of these guys seem to have so much fun playing the game. I’m all for listening to Bryce Harper and making baseball fun again. They both play with a lot of energy, on top of the fact that they are both fantastic players. Lindor is a legit five-tool player with a lot of range in the field. I haven’t seen a ton of Baez, but he seems to have a bit of a strikeout problem. When he does make contact, though, his bat speed is so fast he can rip the ball.
NS: If you’re referring to the strikeout in Game 3 as part of that “strikeout problem,” it’s very tough to lay off a high fastball when the winning run is on second base with two outs and two strikes in the World Series. Baez has been more disciplined as of late, and I think he’ll only get better from here.
HR: I completely agree. He is still very young and that discipline at the plate comes with time. Even with the strikeout to seal the win for the Indians in Game 3, neither player is letting the moment get the best of them, which is impressive for guys so young. To quickly wrap things up, who needs to step up for the Cubs to pull it off?
HR: I agree with that; the meat of the Cubs order needs to perform. Good luck to the Cubs the rest of the way, and ROLL TRIBE.
NS: Good luck to the Indians, too. Hopefully once we find our bats, it’ll be time to #FlyTheW.