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World Series 2016: Odds and Predictions for Indians vs. Cubs Game 5

The Indians are on the precipice of the seemingly impossible: bringing a second championship to Cleveland in the span of four months.

(OK, Cleveland Monsters faithful—third championship to Cleveland.)

Behind some surprisingly brilliant pitching and clutch hitting, the Indians have taken each of the first two games in Chicago and can wrap up the 2016 World Series later Sunday night with a win in Game 5. The Indians will hand the ball to Trevor Bauer, the only Cleveland pitcher to take a loss so far in this series.

Bauer has had a difficult go during the playoffs, injuring his pinkie finger while fixing his custom drone and struggling with his effectiveness. He had trouble finding his location despite being give a clean bill of health in Game 2, and some fans have clamored for Bauer to be replaced by Ryan Merritt—the unlikely hero for Cleveland in the ALCS.

“Ryan did a really good job in his game in Toronto, but Trevor’s been a really good pitcher for us for four years,” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters. “If we thought that the finger was getting in the way, I understand it. But he’s come so far and battled this thing so much that I think his better game is ahead of him.”

The Cubs will hand the ball to Jon Lester, who gave up three runs in 5.2 innings and took the loss in Game 1. The Indians had a field day running on Lester and will likely look to do the same Sunday. Throwing to first base has become a nonstarter for Lester, and the Cubs have to contend with his inability to check runners every start. 

Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz spoke to Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune about Lester's issues:

It's a sick feeling. No one wants to say the "y-word" [yips] or the "s-word" [shank] in golf. I'm not a believer that one day you wake up and mentally you can't make a two-foot putt. You lose the mechanic, the feel and then your brain tells you that you have to fix it and think about it. And the more you think about it, the worse it gets. So I commend Jon. The Cubs have a plan.

Despite Lester's struggles, the Cubs are heavy favorites for a win. Odds Shark has them listed at -210, and some sports books have them listed as -235—meaning you would have to spend $235 to have the chance to win $100.

“We're confident, especially how we won in this very tough game,” Indians star Carlos Santana told reporters after Game 4. “Lester, he's throwing very good baseball. He has experience in the World Series. … But we're fine. We'll worry about tomorrow and try to win the game.”

It seems unlikely that the Cubs would lose three straight home games, but they were heavy favorites coming into the series. Their bats have gone almost completely silent against an Indians rotation that looked like a weakness heading into the postseason. Kris Bryant has one hit the entire series, Addison Russell has just two and the Cubs lineup has been held to two or fewer runs in three of the four games.

“We’re all trying to hit a grand slam with nobody on,” catcher Miguel Montero said, per Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “It’s not gonna happen. We need to be a little more patient at the plate, play a little small ball. We’re all trying to hit the ball 110 miles an hour off the bat—no. We need to get a ground ball through the hole. Simple as that.”

Logic says the Cubs win. Bauer's recent performance suggests the Cubs have a good shot. On paper, the Cubs should be on the precipice of pulling away with this series.

But they're not. The Indians have defied logic the entire way to be within one game of taking home their first championship since 1947. Let's just go with gut feelings and keep riding the wave.

Indians close it out later tonight.

Score prediction: Indians 4, Cubs 2

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