Cleveland Indians (Tomlin 13-9, 4.40) vs. Chicago Cubs (Hendricks 16-8, 2.13)
Series tied 1-1
8pm ET Friday on FOX
Jake Arrieta was the man on Wednesday, taking a no-hitter into the 6th and giving up just 1 run, while Kyle Schwarber made a triumphant comeback from a torn ACL, suffered in the second game of the regular season, to go 2-for-4 with a run scored and 2 RBI in the Cubs 5-1 over the Indians. With the Series now tied at 1-1, the action heads to Chicago for the next three games.
Josh Tomlin has very quietly been the unsung hero of the Indians' playoff run, getting the win in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Red Sox, with 5 innings of 2-run ball, and then getting another W in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays with 5 ⅔ innings of 1-run ball. Tomlin’s not flashy, barely breaking 90 mph with his fastball, and he doesn’t strike out many guys, but he’s always around the plate, giving up the fewest walks per 9 innings pitched, 1.035, in the league. Being around the plate that much can have it’s downside, however, and in 2016 it led to 36 home runs, second-most in the AL. The Cubs drew more walks than any team in baseball this year, so Tomlin may force them to be more aggressive – whether that aggression turns into outs or homers remains to be seen. If chasing a world title isn’t enough, Tomlin will have the extra motivation of his father being in the stands, weeks after being stricken by a rare spinal condition that has left him paralyzed from the chest down.
With each successive start in the postseason, NL ERA king Kyle Hendricks has been getting better and better. After lasting just 3 ⅔ while giving up 2 runs to the Giants in the NLDS, Hendricks then went 5 ⅓, allowing just 1 run to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS, before winning the sixth and final game against LA with 7 ⅓ shutout innings, giving up just 2 hits and fanning 6. That last start has brought his 2016 playoff numbers – 2-1, 1.65 ERA – more in line with his brilliant regular season. If he continues to get better, Cleveland’s goose is cooked.