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The wind will play a factor in Game 3 of the 2016 World Series

The question is, which team has the advantage?

MLB: World Series-Workouts David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

At Wrigley Field, a strong gust out of the southwest can turn a bloop into a blast, and winds blowing in from the north turn rockets into routine outs. Both the Cubs and the Indians will need to consider the breezes of the Windy City during the next three games of the World Series

Here is what tonight’s forecast looks like as of yesterday:

wind

#Hashtags are great for #Analysis too, and did you know that #Wind only helps #CubzDingerz?

Tonight, Kyle Hendricks and Josh Tomlin square off on the mound. In a few fundamental ways they share similarities, but in statistical outcomes the a gap is wider than the Grand Canyon.

Both top out in velocity around 89 mph. Late in the season Tomlin began throwing his curveball much more often, decreasing the rate at which he threw his cutter. This aligns with his September resurgence. Hendricks, meanwhile, began throwing his four-seamer much more often at the end of the year, which cut into his use of the sinker.

In addition to a tertiary pitch gaining prominence late this season, both pitchers were drafted out of college. Neither is the star pitcher of their team, and both have excellent nicknames. Tomlin is known as the Little Cowboy, and Hendricks gained the nickname The Professor after finishing his degree at Dartmouth.

This is where the similarities end.

Tomlin is the best pitcher in all of baseball at avoiding walks. He led the league in BB/9 this season with 1.03. This is the second time that he’s been the best in all of baseball among qualified pitchers; he did it in 2011 as well. These also happen to be the only two years that he’s qualified. This is an excellent talent to bring into a baseball game against a patient bunch of hitters. Hendricks does not walk many batters either (2.08 BB/9), but Tomlin’s accuracy is at the level needed for multi-planet slingshot orbits.

orbit

No one in the game has been better this season than Hendricks at inducing soft contact as defined by BIS, the tracking system that Fangraphs references. 25.1% of all hits were considered to be soft, which means that he turned the average player he faced this season into an awful batter according to their table. Only 25.8% of batted balls off of Hendricks were classified as hard, the fourth best mark. Tomlin had the 11th lowest percentage of soft contact events in the game (16.4%), while finishing with the 13th highest hard hit rate (33.9%).

This creates a fearful synergy with the following stat: 17.7% of the fly balls that Tomlin allowed in 2016 flew over the fence, the fourth-worst mark in the league. At 9.3%, Hendricks had the third-best. With the wind blowing out toward the bleacher bums, it is going to be a challenging start for Tomlin.

What it boils down to is this. Kyle Hendricks is a pitcher who is able to succeed because of his ability to generate ground balls or weak fly balls. He does not strike hitters out at an elite rate, and he is not an exemplary control artist, but batted balls have done little damage to him compared to his peers. Tomlin is successful when he avoids contact, freezing up hitters with pinpoint accuracy on the edge of the zone and almost never surrendering a walk.

Tribe fans should hope that his curveball bends like a satellite swooping through the cosmos, landing right on target tonight.