One way or another, the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs will play the final game of the 2016 Major League Baseball season tonight at 8:00 PM. Starting pitchers for the two teams will be Corey Kluber (won games 1 and 4) and Kyle Hendricks (lost game 3 1-0), both Cy Young contenders in their respective leagues and the best each team has to offer on the mound. For the visiting Cubs, this will be their final line-up:
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise, but once the Cubs finally scored some runs, Joe Maddon kept the same line-up for two games in a row. Bryant protects Schwarber while Rizzo protects Bryant and Zobrist, Rizzo. Russell had the best game of them all in game six and the now hot Heyward gives the bottom of the line-up more balance than the Cubs had in the first five games of the series.
This is the line-up that lead the Cubs to have the third most potent offense in all of baseball in 2016 and is just as formidable as their their starting pitcher, who finished with a 2.13 ERA. Facing that pitcher will be the home starting nine:
Here, Terry Francona has also went with a very similar line-up to his others against right handed pitchers all post-season with one very big exception. After making one terrible play that cost the Indians two runs and a couple other questionable ones, Tyler Naquin has been replaced in center field and the order by Davis. While Davis hitting against a talented right hander isn’t ideal for the Indians, Naquin hasn’t been able to hit anyone this post-season (4 for 23 with 14 strike outs).
On the other side, Davis has hit safely just once in 11 at bats against right handers, but provides significantly better defense in the outfield and did go 2 for 4 in game five. He also stole three bases in that game and won’t feel the need to stay put hitting in front of Crisp and Perez at the bottom of the line-up. He will move up to hit above the switch hitting Crisp, giving the Indians alternating hitters throughout the line-up (S-L-S-R-S-L-R-S-R).
With John Lackey and Jon Lester looming in the bullpen for the Cubs with no more games to go, keeping Maddon from matching up with a long stretch could be integral for the Indians. They also have two right handers to go to from the bench in Brandon Guyer and Yan Gomes as Lester is almost certain to be used.