The good news for Cleveland Indians fans is that almost 80 percent of MLB teams that come home with a 3-2 series lead do win – but the bad news is it might take another loss to produce a big betting payoff.
Ahead of Game 6 at Progressive Field, Cleveland is set at -230 in the series prices, while the rallying Chicago Cubs are listed at +190 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
For Tuesday’s game itself, which has a pitching matchup of Chicago RHP Jake Arrieta and Cleveland RHP Josh Tomlin, the Cubs are listed at -143 to win with the Indians the +133 underdogs. The total for the game is set at seven runs.
A Cubs win that forces a Game 7 would cause the odds to shift – but Cleveland would still have their ace Corey Kluber, with his 0.89 postseason era, taking the ball. Kyle Hendricks is the Cubs’ scheduled starter for Game 7.
In MLB postseason history, 69 of 81 teams that took a 3-1 series lead went on to finish the job, so missing the first chance to clinch hasn’t been a big deal. Also, 55.3 percent of teams which have come home for Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead have immediately closed it out.
Cleveland is 6-4 in Tomlin’s last 10 home starts, but that does not reflect the scintillating 1.71 earned run average he has posted since September 1, when he junked his cut fastball and started relying on his curveball.
The righty is working on three days’ rest for only the second time in his career, the other instance having come in 2010. That might not pose a problem since Tomlin is relying on his curveball, and only threw 58 pitches during his start last Friday in Game 3.
With the off-day after a loss, manager Terry Francona should have a fully stocked bullpen. Lefty relief ace Andrew Miller, who has been near-untouchable in the playoffs, has had two days off since throwing 27 pitches in Game 4.
The Cubs are 5-5 in their last 10 road games as a favorite with Arrieta as their starting pitcher.
Arrieta was credited with the Game 2 win in Cleveland after allowing one run and two hits over 5.2 innings.
Arrieta is clearly not at his best, with a 4.30 ERA in eight starts since September 1. However, if he gets touched up for an early run or two, the Cubs hitters – 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant, SS Addison Russell and others – will have the benefit of seeing Tomlin for the second time.
No team has overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series since the 1985 Kansas City Royals.