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Indians/Cubs

Despite all the pregame talk of 30-40 mph wind blowing out at Wrigley for Game 3, runs were in short supply Friday night on the north side of Chicago. The only run of the game came on a pinch-hit RBI single by Coco Crisp. Starter Josh Tomlin and the formidable Cleveland bullpen combined to shut out Chicago for the second time in three games, leaving the Cubs and their fans wondering whether their offense will be making an appearance in the Fall Classic.

Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber) at Chicago Cubs (John Lackey), 8:00 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 53% Cubs, 47% Indians

Projected Starting Lineups

Indians vs. Lackey (R)

Cubs vs. Kluber (R)

Carlos Santana (S), LF

Dexter Fowler (S), CF

Jason Kipnis (L), 2B

Kris Bryant (R), 3B

Francisco Lindor (S), SS

Anthony Rizzo (L), 1B

Mike Napoli (R), 1B

Ben Zobrist (S), LF

Jose Ramirez (S), 3B

Willson Contreras (R), C

Lonnie Chisenhall (L), RF

Jorge Soler (R), RF

Roberto Perez (R), C

Javier Baez (R), 2B

Tyler Naquin (L), CF

Addison Russell (R), SS

Corey Kluber (R), P

John Lackey (R), P

Injuries/Availability

After collecting two hits in Game 3, Jorge Soler figures to get another start in right field over Jason Heyward. However, it’s likely that the Cubs will end up using Heyward in Game 4 the same way they did in Game 3, as part of a double-switch with Heyward staying in the game for defensive purposes.

Since he does not have medical clearance to play the field on his surgically repaired knee, Kyle Schwarber will once again be limited to pinch-hitting duties. Joe Maddon will probably try to keep the lefty-swinging Schwarber away from Andrew Miller, but Maddon would probably prefer to use Schwarber in a close game against Miller rather than end a game without getting Schwarber to the plate at all.

Carlos Santana should be getting another start in left field. He’ll likely be pulled for a pinch-runner or a defensive replacement at some point before the eighth inning.

Andrew Miller threw 17 pitches in Game 3 while Cody Allen threw 18 for Cleveland. Aroldis Chapman threw 17 pitches in Game 3 for Chicago. All three should be available for more than an inning if needed in Game 4.

Corey Kluber will be starting on short rest. Depending on his performance, pitch count, and the score, he could make an early exit since Cleveland is planning on starting him on short rest again in Game 7 if the series gets there. If he makes an early exit, Danny Salazar will be available for a multi-inning appearance since he was not used in Game 3.

Michael Martinez entered Game 3 as a pinch-runner for Roberto Perez, scored the game’s only run, and remained in the lineup the rest of the way. Defensively, he replaced Tyler Naquin in center field before shifting to third base in a double-switch involving Jose Ramirez. There are no questions about Martinez’s health or availability, but the fact that he’s actually playing in a World Series seems noteworthy. And weird.

Outlook

The biggest storyline going into Game 4 is Kluber, the Cleveland ace who will be pitching on three days' rest with an eye toward making a third World Series start in Game 7 if needed. Will he be as effective as he was in Game 1? Pitching on short rest, will he be able to throw as many innings as he would in a normal start, or will Cleveland have to go to their bullpen early with no off day before Game 5?

Chicago’s offense has yet to flex its muscle in the World Series, only scoring in one of the first three games and failing to hit any home runs. They couldn’t score against Kluber in Game 1, but they hope that the looks they got against Kluber in that game, as well as the fact that Cleveland’s ace will be pitching on short rest, will lead to more favorable results in Game 4.

A lot of attention has been paid to the aggressive, unconventional bullpen usage employed throughout the playoffs by both managers. It’s worth noting that both managers have been aggressive with their position players, too, using lots of pinch-hitters, defensive substitutions and (in NL parks) double-switches. The deep benches on both sides and their managers’ willingness to use them suggest that few position players will be left in the dugout by the end of Game 4.

With a 2-1 Cleveland lead in the series, Game 4 will be a massive inflection point. A Chicago win knots the series at two games apiece, while a Cleveland win puts the Cubs into a deep 3-1 hole that they can only escape by winning the next three games in a row. That’s not impossible, but it’s a pretty tall order. Expect Maddon to manage Game 4 as if it’s an elimination game.