For the third time this postseason, the front-page writers here at BCB got together late Monday afternoon to discuss the World Series. Again, this has been lightly edited to put the answers in proper order.
Al Yellon: So... here we are again, and happy to be back for the third time this postseason!
Josh Timmers: We said we'd do this three times and we did.
Duane Pesice: Indeed.
Russ La Croix: I don't know about you guys, but to me this entire thing still feels so surreal.
Al Yellon: It does, Russ, doesn't it? It won't really feel real till Game 1 actually starts.
Duane Pesice: It won't feel real for months.
Russ La Croix: Maybe longer than that.
Danny Rockett: For some reason, I feel unsatisfied. Unfinished business.
Josh Timmers: I hope to the players, it will feel like just another game once it starts.
Duane Pesice: Yes.
Al Yellon: Joe Maddon will help them make sure of that. He did that all year.
Russ La Croix: Honestly, I think that now that they're past the NLCS the pressure is really off of them.
Josh Timmers: Yes. Now we can all laugh at Nationals/Expos fans..
Duane Pesice: Like in football, once you get hit that first time.
Al Yellon: I agree, Russ. That was the big hurdle to leap -- just getting to the World Series. A lot of pressure is off now.
Duane Pesice: Maddon talked about that in his press conference yesterday.
Josh Timmers: The pressure is on Cleveland as much as the Cubs.
Danny Rockett: My fear is that the NLCS was too cathartic for the team and fans.
Duane Pesice: Like the NLDS was last year? I don't think so.
Al Yellon: Danny, it was cathartic, but I think everyone knows there is still unfinished business.
Russ La Croix: I don't think that there will be any letdown with the Cubs. They haven't let down any yet this season so far. And the 2015 team just looked like it got gassed.
Josh Timmers: These guys are too young to care about that. And the older ones--Lester, Lackey, Ross, know how to get through this.
Al Yellon: That's right, Josh. The perfect combination -- young guys who don't care about the history can be led by players who have been there, in some cases several times
Duane Pesice: Cleveland is in the same position as the Dodgers. No starters.
Josh Timmers: Lackey pitched and won game 7 of the World Series as a rookie -- the first ever in Angels history.
Danny Rockett: I'm just saying its a fear. I'm just unhappy because I'm doing laundry and can't afford tickets.
Russ La Croix: Hey, at least you're in Chicago, Danny. Think of us people in Cardinal country.
Danny Rockett: Well, I plan on going to Cleveland regardless. Can't get in on a miracle ticket if I'm not there.
Josh Timmers: I haven't been to a major league game since my daughter was born. I can't just take off and go anymore. I guess I'm an adult now.
Al Yellon: I couldn't get Cleveland tickets... so I'll be watching games 1 and 2 on TV with everyone else.
Josh Timmers: It's tough. You have to listen to ARod and Frank Thomas on the pre-game and then rush and hit "mute" as soon as Pete Rose opens his mouth.
Russ La Croix: Ah, Pete Rose.
Al Yellon: I'll have my mute button finger ready! Good luck, Danny! Hope you get in!
Duane Pesice: I don't care for Frank either.
Al Yellon: From what I hear, A-Rod is pretty good though.
Duane Pesice: A-Rod's done the work.
Russ La Croix: He is.
Danny Rockett: It was fun having the opportunity to boo Joe Buck after the NLCS win.
Al Yellon: So let's move on to the games. What are the keys to the Cubs winning this series?
Duane Pesice: Score early, score often.
Russ La Croix: Three words: Solve Andrew Miller.
Al Yellon: I think you both have it. Get early leads, so Miller's presence is muted.
Danny Rockett: The Indians remind me of the Dodgers. Not a lot of pitching depth and guys are overachieving.
Duane Pesice: Cleveland, like the Dodgers, is playing bullpen games.
Russ La Croix: The thing that surprised me is that Cleveland really hasn't hit a lick the entire postseason.
Al Yellon: The Indians are a better running team than the Dodgers. That could be a problem for Jon Lester, but he's dealt with it before.
Danny Rockett: They have 11 homers to the Cubs’ 12 in less games.
Russ La Croix: They have 11 homers but they've hit a combined .208.
Duane Pesice: Right. Not much OBP either.
Al Yellon: Cleveland's pitching shut down the Jays, but Toronto just tried to mash the ball and failed. The Cubs have more offensive weapons than just home runs.
Russ La Croix: It'll really be interesting to see who the Indians trot out as their four starters.
Al Yellon: So far they have no one listed past Kluber.
Russ La Croix: Kluber and Tomlin for sure, Bauer and his bad pinky, and... question mark.
Josh Timmers: The Indians bullpen is terrific no matter who they are facing. I really wanted the Cubs to get Miller. But their starters are weak beyond Kluber. Get to them early.
Al Yellon: The Indians just announced that Danny Salazar will be available. But will he start?
Josh Timmers: Salazar will probably start, but it is questionable how long he'll be able to go.
Russ La Croix: That's probably their four starters, then.
Duane Pesice: Tomlin and Bauer will walk people.
Al Yellon: That's one key to the Cubs generating offense, be patient with Tomlin and Bauer.
Duane Pesice: Yes. Blue Jays were trying to sit on pitches but were swinging at junk.
Josh Timmers: Salazar might be a three innings guy and then turn it over to the bullpen.
Danny Rockett: Kluber's outings have been getting shorter by the start, too.
Russ La Croix: Kluber's given up a decent number of baserunners in the postseason; he's just been able to escape them turning into runs.
Al Yellon: Which Indians will be the most important for Cubs pitchers to stop in this series?
Russ La Croix: Lindor.
Duane Pesice: Kipnis and Santana.
Al Yellon: Agreed on Kipnis. He's the heart & soul of that team, like Rizzo is for the Cubs.
Josh Timmers: Rajai Davis. You don't want him running wild on the basepaths. Luckily, he's not that good a hitter.
Russ La Croix: I was going to say Kipnis or Santana, but they've both been hitting badly this postseason. So I guess keeping them where they are is a good thing.
Danny Rockett: Napoli is no slouch, either.
Josh Timmers: The point I wanted to make about Santana is that the Indians have no way of getting both Napoli and Santana into the lineup in Chicago. That's going to be a huge edge for the Cubs in the three home games.
Russ La Croix: What, they can't both play first?
Al Yellon: Napoli probably plays first, which means Santana is only a pinch hitter.
Josh Timmers: I think it will depend on the pitcher. Santana could get some starts at first.
Al Yellon: Well, we know it'll be Hendricks in Game 3 and Lackey in Game 4, then Lester again in Game 5.
Danny Rockett: Many Indians players have hit Lester well in the past. Current Indians are .306 overall in 157 at-bats. Napoli is 6 for 12 with two homers. Rajai Davis has seen him most and is batting .304 (14-for-46).
Russ La Croix: If the Cubs can keep Cleveland's bats cold, they'll be in good shape. Napoli's only hitting .179 in the postseason, Santana .172, and Kipnis .167. And Davis is hitless so far this postseason.
Josh Timmers: Yeah, for as much as they shut down Toronto's offense, their offense didn't do much either. The other problem the Indians are going to have is that they're a team that puts the ball into play a lot. Normally that's a good thing, but with the Cubs having a historically good defense, they could have problems getting those balls to drop.
Duane Pesice: Ground balls, lotta ground balls. Hit 'em to Javy.
Josh Timmers: Lackey used to razz Napoli when he was a rookie on the Angels. Lackey called him "Snacks" because he was always going for seconds at the buffet.
Danny Rockett: And not many Cubs have faced Kluber but Fowler is 0 for 7 with five K's. Zobrist has seen him most and is 1 for 13.
Josh Timmers: The Indians scored 12 runs in a five game series against Toronto. That won't get it done against the Cubs.
Danny Rockett: Josh is right. No way.
Al Yellon: Game 1 is a rematch of August 24, 2015 at Wrigley -- Cubs won 2-1 on a KB walkoff homer. So I'm looking for a pitchers duel, especially since it's supposed to be cold (temps in 40s)
Russ La Croix: Man, I remember that game. That was the Strop Strut game.
Al Yellon: Yep, the "Strop Strut" -- that was fun!
Duane Pesice: Don't start Soler.
Al Yellon: Soler's kind of been the forgotten man this postseason.
Russ La Croix: Yeah, he has. Not many chances for him.
Josh Timmers: I don't know what to do with Soler. He should DH vs. lefties, but he looks as lost as Heyward.
Duane Pesice: His swing looks bad and his defense is awful.
Danny Rockett: Soler needs to play every day or he's bad.
Al Yellon: What other Cubs hitters are key for this series?
Duane Pesice: KB
Russ La Croix: Rizzo will be a biggie. It's nothing but righty starters.
Al Yellon: I still have this feeling that Heyward will step up.
Duane Pesice: I have that feeling too, Al...because righty starters
Josh Timmers: The usual suspects (Bryant, Rizzo, Fowler) plus Warbird.
Al Yellon: I have no idea what to expect from Warbird. I mean.. sure, he's been cleared to play, but he hasn't faced major league pitchers in six months, and now it's the biggest stage of all.
Russ La Croix: He seems like he's been doing okay in the AFL. At least with making contact.
Al Yellon: Just two games, though.
Duane Pesice: Schwarber... we don't know that he hasn't faced ML starters. You could do that on the q.t.
Josh Timmers: He doubled yesterday. In a perfect world, he'd play two more games and then be activated. But it's not a perfect world.
Duane Pesice: He just hasn't faced MLB starters in MLB games.
Russ La Croix: I think that either way he's going to provide a huge lift.
Josh Timmers: The Indians are in the same situation with Danny Salazar. But one bad pitcher can wreck you more than one bad hitter.
Danny Rockett: The Cubs have been doing a lot with a little. Just gotta string the hits together and get on a roll. This team responds to momentum more than just about any other I've seen.
Al Yellon: Well, it seems like a good time for predictions!
Russ La Croix: Oh, man... I don't know if I want to make a prediction on this one.
Duane Pesice: Cubs in 6. The longer the series, the more it favors Chicago.
Josh Timmers: We all picked the Blue Jays to be the Cubs opponent, so we're real good at this.
Duane Pesice: Russ picked Cleveland.
Russ La Croix: Hey, I picked Cleveland!
Josh Timmers: Sorry, Russ. I forgot.
Al Yellon: I picked the Cubs to win the NLCS in six -- so at least I got that one right!
Russ La Croix: Let's put it this way: I know what I want it to be. And that's Cubs in five.
Danny Rockett: If the Cubs win game 1, they sweep, if not Cubs in 5.
Duane Pesice: I want sweep because birthday but I say six.
Danny Rockett: Happy Birthday!
Duane Pesice: Thanks. It's Saturday.
Josh Timmers: Fangraphs and 538 both have the Cubs with around a 63-64% chance of winning. That still means about a 1 in 3 chance that they'll lose. But I'll go Cubs in 5. They'll clinch at home.
Al Yellon: I'll say Cubs in five, too. This pitching staff is going to shut down the Cleveland offense, and the Cubs will hit enough in the early innings so Miller won't be a factor.
Russ La Croix: And if it's Cubs in five... man, I just can't imagine Wrigley Field.
Al Yellon: Imagine that: the Cubs winning the World Series at home. That would be a first -- the 1907 and 1908 WS were both won in Detroit.
Russ La Croix: Absolute bedlam falls way short of an accurate description, I'm pretty sure.
Al Yellon: I'd agree. It will be the biggest party in sports history, I'd say.
Josh Timmers: We've given a bunch of reasons why the Cubs should win, but don't underestimate the Indians. They showed that they have a formula for winning against Toronto. Just don't let them get early leads and the Cubs should win.
Danny Rockett: And I'm gonna miss it from being poor.
Al Yellon: You can still party with the thousands outside Wrigley, Danny.
Danny Rockett: Yeah. It seems you can get away with a lot! Only 6 arrests. I like those odds.
Russ La Croix: You're not trying hard enough, it seems.
Danny Rockett: I bolted home after the NLCS win. I'm not into the whole frat boy scene or $80 covers at Cubby Bear.
Duane Pesice: I'd honestly rather watch on TV.
Josh Timmers: I'm going to party with my daughter. And she won't care. But I do.
Russ La Croix: Four more to go!
Josh Timmers: Let's fly the W!
Danny Rockett: Thanks Al! Go Cubs!!
Duane Pesice: Cool. Go Cubs!
Al Yellon: Four more. Amazing to think that! Fly the W indeed.