Go inside the numbers and matchups that will decide Wednesday night's showdown between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 of the World Series, and then vote for which team will win at the bottom of the page.
How we got here
Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen combined for 15 strikeouts, Roberto Perez hit two home runs, Jason Heyward got benched, Brandon Guyer got hit by a pitch and the Indians took the opener. -- David Schoenfield
Inside the pitching matchup
When Jake Arrieta is on the mound: Kyle Hendricks got the ball in Game 2 of the NLDS and NLCS, but Arrieta moves up here to avoid starting Hendricks on short rest. The 2015 Cy Young winner had a 1.74 ERA through June 22, but posted a 4.44 ERA over his final 16 starts with 41 walks in 99⅓ innings. He has walked just one batter in his two playoff starts, but has allowed six runs and 12 hits in 11 innings and surrendered two home runs in his start against the Dodgers.
Arrieta has talked about how he lost his feel for his cutter/slider midseason but has regained the confidence to throw it again. That pitch, along with his 92-95 mph fastball with late sink and his curveball, gave him a deadly three-pitch arsenal (plus an occasional changeup) that induces a lot of weak contact. Batters hit .037 against the cutter in April with a 30 percent strikeout rate, but in July they hit .429 with just a 12 percent K rate. As a result, after throwing the cutter 113 times in April and 125 more times in May, he threw it just 51 times in August. He's back to throwing it a lot again, however: 29 times against the Giants and 28 against the Dodgers. Those lineups were lefty heavy, as are the Indians with all their switch-hitters, so look for a cutter-heavy approach again.
Arrieta doesn't do a very good job holding runners -- base stealers were 23-for-26 against him -- so the Indians may look to be aggressive once they get on. -- Schoenfield
When Trevor Bauer is on the mound: The Indians hope Bauer will last longer than the four batters he faced in his start in the ALCS, when he had to exit after his stitched-up pinkie finger began dripping blood. Bauer had a strong start to 2016, but finished with a 4.26 ERA, including 6.39 in September. He actually pitched worse at home (4.73 ERA), where he allowed 15 of his 20 home runs.
Bauer's issue has always been command. He led the AL in walks last year and ranked seventh this year. What's at odds here is that Bauer does throw a high percentage of pitches in the strike zone, as he ranked 19th in that category among qualified starters. The problem is he still gets into too many three-ball counts and had the second-highest walk rate among starters when he gets to two strikes.
Bauer works off a fastball that averages 93.2 mph, preferring to work middle-away to both lefties and righties. He works up in the zone with the fastball, which has resulted in a .447 slugging percentage allowed on the pitch. He adds a curveball, cutter and changeup, with the curveball his go-to wipeout pitch -- batters hit .134/.145/.221 with a 45 percent strikeout rate against it. If Bauer can get to curveball counts, he can be tough. If not, it usually means he's putting too many batters on base with free passes. The Cubs are a patient team, so this could be a tough matchup for Bauer.
With Bauer unlikely to go deep into the game -- either because of the finger or a likely quick hook regardless -- look for hard-throwing Danny Salazar, back on the roster after missing the first two rounds, to make a relief appearance. -- Schoenfield
Player in the spotlight
Jason Kipnis. The second baseman sprained his ankle in the pennant-clinching celebration and may not have been able to play if the World Series had started a couple of days earlier. He went 0-for-5 in the opener and didn't have to make any tough plays in the field, so it's hard to know whether the ankle was bothering him. -- Schoenfield
Did you know ...
The Cubs were the seventh team in the past 50 years to get shut out in Game 1 of the World Series and the first since the A's in 1990. But here's the good news for Cubs fans: Four of the previous six teams to get shut out in Game 1 came back to win the series. -- ESPN Stats & Information
What will decide the game Wednesday night
Jake Arrieta's fastball. Arrieta's fastball has been hittable lately; he has allowed at least three hard-hit balls with the pitch in each of his past three starts dating back to the regular season (he had only seven such starts for the season entering that stretch). The Cubs are 9-4 this season (including the playoffs) in games in which Arrieta allowed fewer than three hits against his fastball, but they were just 11-10 in starts in which he allowed three or more hits against the pitch. And the Indians struggled with fastballs from right-handed pitchers in the regular season, with a hard-hit rate below league average. The general point: If Arrieta's fastball is sharp, he'll likely win Game 2. -- ESPN Stats & Info
The man in blue
This is Chris Guccione's first time umpiring home plate in a World Series game. Guccione calls strikes at a rate that is close to average among his peers, but still rates a little bit on the "less likely to call a strike" side. He ranks 25th out of 80 umpires in fewest called strikes above average. The key Guccione tendency to know is that for right-handed pitchers, he calls the inside strike at a rate lower than his peers against both left- and right-handed batters.
Arrieta allowed seven runs and 10 hits in five innings pitched in one start with Guccione during the regular season (Sept. 28 against the Pirates). Arrieta does not benefit or suffer much with regard to pitch framing. The one thing that is notable is that against right-handed hitters, he frequently gets called strikes when he puts a pitch on the inside corner.
Bauer made one start with Guccione umping in the 2016 regular season (July 16 against the Twins), allowing four runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and three walks over six innings. Having Roberto Perez catching is very important to Bauer. Perez gets him high strikes, inside strikes and outside strikes at a rate higher than that of the Indians' other catchers. It will be interesting to see if he gets those calls tonight. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Info
Betting guide for Game 2
Westgate line: Cubs (Arrieta) -145 at (Bauer) +135 Over/under: 7 (-120 over)
Game 2 PickCenter: 52 percent picking Indians
Joe Peta: Last night was something of a must-win for the Indians because they had full use of their strengths (Kluber, Miller and Allen), they had a season's worth of basepath aggressiveness to exploit a Cubs vulnerability (Lester with runners on base) and they were at home. They delivered and they should be congratulated, but it wasn't entirely unexpected. I picked the Cubs in five games, but passed on a Game 1 wager, because, as I said in the series preview, "let's give the Indians . . . a win in one of the two games they face Lester ..."
Cleveland fans should be encouraged, however, because unlike the 2015 Royals or the 2012 and 2014 Giants, the Cubs do not thwart the effectiveness of high-strikeout staffs by constantly making contact. On the other hand, despite striking out at the MLB rate, the Cubs have a tremendous lineup and it calls into question whether the Indians' formula last night is repeatable -- especially without Kluber on the mound. You may not have noticed, but when the Cubs weren't striking out last night they hit .368, slugged .474 and had an on base percentage of .429. Click here for more
Choosing sides: Who will win?
The Cubs really didn't look bad at the plate in Game 1. Kluber was terrific and he got some calls on borderline pitches. I'm not saying they were bad calls, but they were pitches some umpires would not judge as strikes, and that can hurt a patient team. But the Cubs won't change -- consistency of approach is the team's offensive hallmark. I see that working in their favor against a rusty Trevor Bauer in Game 2. The Cubs will take Game 2 to even the series. -- Bradford Doolittle
It's simple. The Cubs won't be facing a Cy Young winner on Wednesday or ALCS MVP Miller, at least not at full strength after the Indians' top reliever threw 46 pitches in Game 1 on Tuesday. It means the Cubs will score some runs, but so may the Indians, as Cubs starter Arrieta hasn't been as sharp as he'd like to be. The result is a high-scoring victory by the visitors to even the series. -- Jesse Rogers
I think the Cubs are going to rock Bauer. Bauer said the cut on his right pinkie won't impact him. He also claimed his arm is ready, but there is no way his routine has not been thrown off by the pinkie problem. Chicago will take advantage and even the series. -- Andrew Marchand
Where the series stands
The Game 1 winner has gone on to win the World Series 57 percent of the time -- but over the past 28 World Series, that percentage has been 86 percent. The Cubs do have the starting pitching advantage in Game 2 (and Game 3 with Hendricks versus Josh Tomlin). Miller threw 46 pitches in the opener, so who knows how long he can go in Game 2? Two key factors here: Can Arrieta and Bauer avoid walks? And the team that has hit more home runs has gone 24-1 in the postseason so far (hat tip to Joe Sheehan). -- Schoenfield