It’s remarkable how different tomorrow could be for all of us, depending on what happens tonight. I wouldn’t even dare to think about Thursday, of course, but I reckon the same could wind up being true by then. But tomorrow … well, it’s either going to a jiggling pile of blubber or a writhing ball of tension we’ve never felt before.
So … I guess … get yourself a nice lunch today.
- Perhaps the biggest change for tonight’s game, outside of the travel to Cleveland, is the re-appearance of Kyle Schwarber as the Cubs’ designated hitter. Relative to what the Indians are able to do with the DH (essentially, improve left field defense a little bit by moving Carlos Santana back into the DH), it’s a significant upgrade to the Cubs’ lineup. You already knew that, but so much Schwarber-related stuff has been tied up in his incredible return that it can be easy to “feel” only that stuff, and not explicitly note that, yeah, it’s a tangible boost to the lineup.
- Of course, it’s worth pointing out that tonight’s starter for the Indians, Josh Tomlin, has an extreme reverse split this season, being very tough on lefties, and very hittable to righties. So maybe Schwarber’s addition won’t prove as large of a boost as we hope?
- (HOWEVA, Tomlin changed his pitch mix dramatically in the final month of the season and the postseason, which kind of throws a lot of those past results out the window. Just crush him, Schwarber.)
- As noted earlier this morning, Willson Contreras will be catching Jake Arrieta tonight, barring a last-minute change of plans. For Arrieta’s comfort and pitch-receiving, you’d probably rather have Miguel Montero back there. Given some of the impatience Contreras has showed at times in this World Series, you might even prefer to have Montero at the plate in a match-up against a soft-tossing righty, too. But Contreras offers dramatically better defense at this point, and in low-scoring games, that’s just as likely to make a huge difference as any other individual skill class. And, of course, we know that Contreras has tremendous offensive potential. I’ve got no overt beef with this decision, particularly when I think about Montero’s struggles throwing the ball, and an Indians team that is eager to run wild against a slow-delivering Arrieta. I just hope against hope that Arrieta and Contreras look to be on the same page (and no one has any issues with veteran umpire Joe West behind the plate), and Arrieta spots his fastball in such a way as to allow Contreras to do some work for him.
- Speaking of Joe West, he has one of the smallest strike zones in baseball, which cuts both ways in this one: Arrieta’s frequent wildness (and killer stuff) could be helped by a large zone; Tomlin’s need to live on the margins or risk getting crushed could be hurt by a small zone.
- On Arrieta, and the theoretical mismatch with Josh Tomlin, Jeff Sullivan rightly notes that, lately, you wouldn’t call that a mismatch. Also, Eno Sarris looks at the maybe-possibly return of the cutter version of Jake Arrieta’s previously-hybrid cutter-slider.
- A hopeful and useful note from Michael:
Josh Tomlin has faced the same team in short per. (>12 days) five times in 2016. His ERA increases by an avg. of 1.87 the 2nd time around.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) November 1, 2016
- I will add to that a slightly more mixed note: in September, after he’d reinvented himself as more of a curveball-heavy pitcher, Tomlin faced each of the White Sox and Royals twice in quick succession. The second time facing each, although he did allow more runs … it was two runs each time, after allowing just one run the first time. So, I guess that means the Cubs are a lock for at least one run off of Tomlin tonight? But maybe not more than one run? (Or, you know, there’s not a one-to-one translation of this stuff. Because I’m kinda kidding.)
- Joe Maddon says he’s unlikely to ride Aroldis Chapman quite as hard in Game Six as he did in Game Five (Tribune). But two innings of work may very well be possible. The Indians, by contrast, will stand ready to lean extremely heavy on their top relievers at the very first whiff of trouble for Tomlin tonight.
- The electronics holiday gift giving guide is out today at Amazon – ’tis the season already, I suppose. But I do love me some gadgets.