The city of Cleveland enjoyed its first major professional sports championship in 52 years when the Cavaliers won the NBA Finals in June. The Indians will attempt to make it two titles in less than a year when they take on the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, starting tonight at Progressive Field. The Indians also hope to end their own 68-year drought, the second-longest such streak in baseball (behind the Cubs' 108 years, of course). Here are five reasons that Cubs fans might have to wait at least 109 years:
1. Home-field advantage: Cleveland will host Games 1 and 2, and if the series goes past five games, the Indians will host Games 6 and 7. Cleveland is 9–6 all time at home during the World Series. And in series that have gone seven games, the road team has only won once since 1980. Cleveland enters this series with a ton of momentum.
2. Andrew Miller: Mid-season acquisition Andrew Miller has been phenomenal for the Indians in the playoffs. He has allowed five hits, zero runs, and two walks, while striking out 21 batters in 11.2 innings pitched. No pitcher has ever struck out more batters (20) in their first nine postseason innings than Miller did. He struck out 56% of the batters he faced in the ALCS. The ALCS MVP was on a few occasions brought in during the middle innings, and his execution took pressure off their depleted starting rotation.
3. The rest of the bullpen: Closer Cody Allen has also been tremendous in the postseason. He’s recorded five saves, while allowing zero runs and five hits in six appearances. The entire bullpen has compiled an ERA of 1.64 during this postseason. They combined for 8.1 IP in a crucial Game 3 win after Trevor Bauer had to leave with a bleeding finger.
4. A healthier rotation: Starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar have been out throughout the playoffs, but Salazar might return in the World Series. After a drone accident during the ALCS, Bauer suffered the aforementioned finger injury, but he will be available too against the Cubs. Ace Corey Kluber, who will start Game 1, has allowed two runs and struck out 20 batters in his three postseason starts. If needed, Cleveland also has Ryan Merritt, who tossed 4.1 scoreless innings in Game 5 of the ALCS.
5. Terry Francona: Manager Terry Francona will be looking to take home his third World Series ring. Francona is 8–0 in World Series games, and he’s been masterful this postseason, knowing exactly when to play certain players. He helped the Red Sox break their 86-year World Series drought in 2004, and he has a chance to help the Indians end their dry spell.
(Photo credit: Elsa/Getty Images)