This is it. Everything that started in early April, or mid-February, really, is coming to a conclusion on Wednesday night. The 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians comes to a close with Game 7.
Kluber might win the AL Cy Young award this season and he’s been an absolute assassin in the postseason. Through five starts, he’s 4-1 with a 0.89 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 35 strikeouts and eight walks in 30 1/3.
Kluber had previously never started a game on short (three days off) rest, but this postseason he’s started twice on short rest and now he’ll do it in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career.
Will that matter? It’ll be interesting to see. Kluber hasn’t allowed a run this postseason on normal (or more) rest. On short rest, he’s given up three earned runs in 11 innings, which is a 2.45 ERA.
It does wonder if seeing a pitcher three times in a span of nine days helps the opposition? Conventional wisdom in baseball is that if a batter and pitcher have never faced one another it’s an advantage for the pitcher, particularly if he has nasty stuff like Kluber. Take note of how he set a record with eight strikeouts in three innings against the Cubs in Game 1 and they scored a run off him in the first inning in Game 4.
Hendricks might win the NL Cy Young, though the hunch is he settles somewhere in the 3-5 range in voting. Still, what a remarkable pitching matchup in Game 7 of the World Series. I don’t think both will win the award, but no Game 7 has ever featured a Cy Young winner vs. a Cy Young winner in the seasons they won.
He’s faced off against a Cy Young winner thus far, though he hasn’t done so in an elimination game. He’s never pitched in an elimination game, in fact, though his resume says that not much really gets to him in the form of pressure.
So has a chance to be the winning pitcher of both the NLCS clincher and World Series clincher.
Hendricks is on normal rest, for those curious.
Against the Indians in Game 2, he allowed zero runs, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings and was getting squared up. Take the conventional wisdom we discussed with Kluber, and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Indians get even better swings against him this time.
The table is set for a classic pitcher’s duel in Game 7 of the World Series.