CHICAGO – If he doesn’t want to always be known solely for jeopardizing his team’s title hopes after injuring himself with a toy, the time is now for Trevor Bauer. The most polarizing pitcher on the Cleveland staff will take the ball this evening at Wrigley Field with a chance to pitch the Indians to their first World Series title since 1948.

His stitched-up pinkie finger on his right hand is by all public accounts no longer an issue for anyone but those who feel Bauer slicing the finger open while repairing his drone just prior to the American League Championship Series was an irresponsible act. The more practical concern is his Game 2 start at Progressive Field, where he labored through 3 2/3 ineffective innings in what would be a 5-1 Chicago win.

Standing in foul territory after Saturday night’s 7-2 win against the Cubs pushed the Indians to a 3-1 series lead, pitching coach Mickey Calloway said he doesn’t expect to see the same Bauer on the mound tonight that he saw five days ago.

“I think you’re going to see a pretty good Trevor Bauer tomorrow,” he said. “I think he feeds off of situations like this. There’s a chance to do something special and he’s probably been thinking about this his whole life. When you’r e six years old, these are the things you start thinking about when you’re playing in your backyard. It’s, ‘I’m going to win the World Series today’ and he’s got a chance to go do that.”

This postseason, Bauer boasts a 5.00 earned-run average in three starts totaling only nine innings. He’s allowed 12 hits including two home runs and four walks, and it’s all been overshadowed by his bloody finger that forced him from Game 3 of the ALCS after only 21 pitches as it hemorrhaged blood on the pitching mound.

Friday, Indians manager Terry Francona said he hadn’t given much thought to starting anyone but Bauer for tonight’sgame, although youngsters Ryan Merritt and Mike Clevinger seemed likely possibilities.

“Trevor’s been a really good pitcher for us for four years,” Francona added before Game 4. “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.”

Calloway pointed out that when Bauer threw 87 pitches in Game 2, it was the first time he had faced more than a handful of batters in two weeks and a little rust was to be expected.

“I definitely missed location quite a bit last game, and there were some that I was trying to elevate,” Bauer said.

Whether any of this bothers, excites or worries Bauer is impossible to tell. The right-hander with top-of-the-rotation stuff has always been an enigma, sticking to his own workout routines and often bucking conventional baseball wisdom for pitchers. A student of the game, Bauer can hold court on mechanics but mostly looks disinterested at best during a press conference.

Bauer said he doesn’t feel anything different in his finger when he throws now. He’s expected to be fine if he needs to swing a bat, and Bauer said he did his usual National League batting practice – seeing pitches and laying down bunts – before Saturday’s game.

Now it’s his chance to take the ball in what could be the biggest game in 68 years for the Indians.

“I think he’s going to be ready to go,” Calloway said. “I think you’re going to see his fastball not as erratic and a tight curveball. He’s going to be able to get it over the zone when he wants to and bury it when he wants to. If he continues to attack like Kluber did, he’s going to be in great shape.”