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Astros just too much (of everything) for the Dodgers

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

November 2, 2017 12:57 AM

Houston strong! At the plate…and on the mound…the Houston Astros overpowered the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series. Details, plus a Bills-Jets NFL preview right now in VSiN City.

World Series: Astros put Game 7 away early in 5-1 victory
All the recent talk about Yu Darvish not being able to throw his slider is going to loom large over this finale. If he really can’t perform to his norms…then the Astros will light him up (as they did in G3).

That tidbit from yesterday’s preview turned out to be the story…virtually the WHOLE story…as Darvish had an instant replay of his earlier nightmare that the Dodgers couldn’t recover from.

Darvish’s Doldrums

  • Game 3: 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 0 K, 1 BB, 1 HR
  • Game 7: 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 0 K, 1 BB, 1 HR

Not quite an exact replica across all stats because Darvish allowed six hits in Houston, just three Wednesday night. But…he finished with a World Series ERA of 21.62 because he couldn’t miss bats. 

LAD had plenty of time to rally after falling behind 5-0 in the top of the second inning. But versus the Astros’ all-hands-on-deck bullpen…on a cool, cloudy night that wasn’t favorable to big comebacks…the game basically ended in the top of the second inning when George Springer’s two-run homer reached the bleachers.

Houston (plus 140) 5, LA Dodgers 1  

  • Totals Bases Plus Walks Drawn: Houston 14, LA Dodgers 9
  • McCullers: 2.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 K, 0 BB, 0 HR’s
  • Darvish: 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 0 K, 1 BB, 1 HR

McCullers didn’t go very deep himself. But he was unblemished in his limited time on the mound. Turned out Houston only needed him to hold down the fort for those nine outs. Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton shouldered most of the remaining burden.

  • Peacock: 2 IP, 0 ER
  • Liriano: 0.1 IP, 0ER
  • Devenski: 0.1 IP, 0 ER
  • Morton: 4 IP, 1 ER

Though the exhilarating home run-crazy Game 5 shootout will go down in baseball lore forever…the true story of this series was that the Dodgers were overwhelmed by Houston’s pitching outside of that one outlier. This wasn’t a seven-game “Home Run Derby.” The Dodgers could barely get their bats on the ball in regulation in six of the seven tussles.

Here’s a final look at nine-inning offensive TB plus W totals for the series… 

TB plus Walks Earned: 9-Inning Totals
Game 1: LA Dodgers 14, Houston 6
Game 2: Houston 20, LA Dodgers 10
Game 3: Houston 23, LA Dodgers 11
Game 4: LA Dodgers 14, Houston 10
Game 5: Houston 35, LA Dodgers 32
Game 6: Houston 12, LA Dodgers 10
Game 7: Houston 14, LA Dodgers 9

Houston’s stellar offense, head and shoulders above the sport all season if you focused on “road” scoring while adjusting for the impact of playing home games in the best pitcher’s park in baseball, won the stat in five of seven games. The final “regulation” tally was 120-100 for Houston. We’ll stack the totals left-to-right so you can see how much the Dodgers struggled on offense in comparison.

LAD: 14-10-11-14-32-10-9
HOU: 6-20-23-10-35-12-14

The Dodgers did pop some offense in bonus innings in G2 that don’t show up in that stat line. But you can see it’s mostly failure. The right team won.

Thanks for following our Major League coverage all season long. We hope the time that you baseball fans spent in VSiN City helped complement the analytics you were learning from Gill Alexander on “A Numbers Game,” and the commentary from hosts and guests on all the other shows. 

We want to quickly mention a betting market note before moving to basketball and football. You may have heard some nonsense from other sources about Nevada sports books inflating the G6 money line in advance of a big bettor arriving to place his action…and about how much money that bettor invested in total across Las Vegas in that game. Chris Andrews and Matt Youmans explain and clarify what really happened at the South Point and across the city in this article that was posted on the VSiN home page Wednesday afternoon. Hold your information sources accountable, particularly when they get something this wrong. And, if you believe that a host or guest on VSiN is mis-reporting or mis-representing something, please let us know! We’re here to serve, not mislead, an audience that’s interested in the dynamics of the sports betting market. 

NBA: Updated soft estimate of “market” Power Ratings
We update our estimate of “market” Power Ratings in the NBA on Thursdays, to help set your mood for the weekly TNT doubleheaders. Remember that there’s a lot more day-to-day flux in this sport because of scheduling dynamics and the tendency for star players to miss game here and there for injuries or rest breaks. These will put you in the ballpark. 

92: Golden State
84: Cleveland, Oklahoma City
83: Toronto, San Antonio, Houston
82: Boston, Washington 
81: Portland, Minnesota, Denver, Milwaukee, LA Clippers
80: Charlotte, Detroit, Memphis, Utah
79: Miami, New Orleans 
78: Philadelphia
77: Orlando, Indiana
76: New York 
75: Dallas, LA Lakers, Sacramento 
74: Brooklyn 
73: Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix

Cleveland is still being priced like a championship contender even though the Cavs are 1-7 against the spread and playing more like a D-league team from Youngstown. Those are good ballpark estimates for now. Teams are usually priced within 1-2 points of that on any given night…though the market will react reasonably quickly to pleasant or bad surprises. 

There are fun stories developing across the NBA. We look forward to covering those in more depth once football steps aside down the road.  

NFL: Surprising Buffalo Bills go for sixth win Thursday night against divisional rival NY Jets
The Buffalo Bills are in the thick of the AFC Wildcard race. Actually, they’re a little bit ahead of the thick. Buffalo has a one-game lead over a pair of AFC South contenders…and are 3-point road favorites Thursday night against the New York Jets. Here are the current Wildcard standings heading into the new NFL week…

AFC Wildcard Race (two spots)
Buffalo 5-2
Tennessee and Jacksonville 4-3 (one leads division, one WC)
Miami 4-3
Baltimore 4-4

Missing are projected contenders Oakland, Denver, and Cincinnati. Houston is 3-4, and is playing well enough to make a run from off of that listing. But you’d have to say Buffalo looks pretty good for one of the two spots already…and would look REALLY good at 6-2. If you assume the Dolphins will continue to flounder on offense all season, Buffalo and a runner-up from the AFC South are the most likely Wildcard entries. Let’s see how easy or hard getting to 6-2 is going to be…

Buffalo (5-2) at the NY Jets (3-5)

  • Las Vegas Line: Buffalo by 3, total of 42.5
  • Estimated Market Power Ratings: Buffalo 80, NY Jets 74 

We mentioned back on Tuesday that we decided to use 80 and 74 to represent the market difference between these two (using a standard 3 points for home field advantage.). The stats you’re about to read will show you why we were hesitant to go with 81 and 75. (Note that the strength of schedule rankings come from Jeff Sagarin of USA Today.)

Yards-per-Play

  • Buffalo: 4.8 on offense, 5.3 on defense (vs. #27 ranked schedule)
  • NY Jets: 5.2 on offense, 5.5 on defense (vs. #21 ranked schedule)

Ugh! How can Buffalo have a winning record with THAT stat profile? They’re on the wrong side of equilibrium on yards-per-play, AND they’ve played a very soft schedule (only 32 teams in the NFL). The Jets are actually the more impressive of the two in this snapshot. Though, both would be fairly ugly against league average schedules. Buffalo isn’t 5-2, knocking on the door of 6-2 because of production. They’ve been winning because they have a plus 14 turnover differential against a very soft schedule. (Jets are -1 in TO differential if you were wondering…as avoiding turnover debacles is a big part of what’s kept them above true doormat status.)

Key Passing Stats 

  • Buffalo: 6.9 yards-per-pass attempt, 8 TD’s, 2 interceptions thrown
  • NY Jets: 7.3 yards-per-pass attempt, 12 TD’s, 7 interceptions thrown

You can see that the Bills avoid interceptions. They play a very safe, conservative attack that hopes to cash in opportunities set up by their defense or special teams. The Jets are more dynamic, but with greater risk. 

Pass Defense 

  • Buffalo: 6.9 yppa allowed; 6 TD’s allowed, 13 interceptions
  • NY Jets: 7.0 yppa allowed; 17 TD’s allowed, 11 interceptions

This is where Buffalo shines. This is why they’re in the playoff hunt. It’s a passing league…and opponents are finding it very difficult to pass consistently against the Bills. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Buffalo turns every opposing quarterback into Deshone Kizer (3 TD/11 INT this season). The Jets are doing a good job of getting picks themselves…but are allowing too many TD’s. Buffalo has just, flat, shut down its weak schedule in this key area. 

Impact Defense 

  • Buffalo: 40% third down pct-allowed, 17 takeaways, 15 sacks
  • NY Jets: 40% third down pct-allowed, 13 takeaways, 16 sacks

You can move the chains against both, though not at will. Both defenses do a good job of making impact plays against opposing quarterbacks. If you’ve been playing close attention, you’ve noticed that Buffalo is plus 14 in turnover differential overall, with only 17 takeaways. That means the offense has been near spotless with just THREE giveaways all season. Fantastic ball protection…but an extreme that’s unlikely to continue to that degree. Buffalo’s overdue to turn the ball over a few times. Maybe that won’t happen until they play tougher opponents. But if they come in overconfident…on the road…against a divisional rival that makes impact plays…things could start getting messy tonight. 

Add it all up, and it looks like this:

Buffalo has played very conservative football on the road, which suggests they’ll try to do the same thing here.

176 yards on 3.3 YPP at Carolina in a 9-3 loss
281 yards on 4.8 YPP at Atlanta in a 23-17 win (helped by a fumble return TD)
221 yards on 3.3 YPP at Cincinnati in a 20-16 loss

They’re not really a playoff caliber team on the road. Well, playoff caliber defense maybe, expansion caliber offense. You’d have to assume Buffalo’s going to stay conservative and try to grind out a win keyed by field position off forced Jets miscues. 
 
The NY Jets are playing a similar brand of football with less impressive athletes and a quarterback who’s more likely to get himself into trouble throwing downfield. If they avoid mistakes, this is a coin flip game that will go right down to the wire. 

The “market score” off a line of 3 and 42.5 is Buffalo 22.75, NYJ 19.75. If anything’s askew, it would be Buffalo being 50/50 to reach 22.75 based on its lousy road offense to this point in the season. Doesn’t take many cheap points to put that in danger in this league. How you handicap this side and total should include an evaluation of whether or not the Jets can avoid costly miscues. 

Generally speaking, the skill sets that create yardage and scoring are well accounted for in the betting marketplace. The skill sets involving the risk/reward equation are trickier to anticipate while being more likely to create surprise results. 

College Football: Be sure you read the Ohio State/Penn State boxscore!
Just enough room to fit in a quick recap of Penn State/Ohio State…our featured preview game from last week. Both teams face interesting road challenges Saturday. Don’t make your final decisions in those games until you’ve studied the following numbers.

Ohio State (-7) 39, Penn State 38

  • Yards-per-Play: Penn State 4.4, Ohio State 6.8
  • Total Yardage: Penn State 283, Ohio State 529
  • Rushing Yards: Penn State 91, Ohio State 201
  • Passing Stats: Penn State 17-29-0-192, Ohio State 33-39-0-328
  • Turnovers: Penn State 0, Ohio State 2
  • Third Down Penn State 47%, Ohio State 42%
  • TD Drive Lengths: Penn State 23-82-23-70, Ohio State 63-75-41-76-58

It’s easy to think of this as a game Penn State “choked” away because they jumped ahead early and blew a big lead. They were fortunate in terms of “point of attack” football to ever be ahead. Saquon Barkley returned the opening kickoff for a TD. But you can see above that the Nittany Lions as a whole couldn’t rush for 100 yards (or total 300 yards, or reach even 4.5 yards-per-play). Penn State had two different very cheap 23-yard TD drives off Ohio State turnovers. Only two real TD drives all afternoon (70 and 83 yards) for PSU out of its 38 points. Ohio State had four TD drives of 58 yards or more, and absolutely squashed the visitor in key stats. Through the course of the afternoon, Penn State’s offense was “hoping” one of its athletes could make a play or catch a 50/50 ball. Ohio State was much more likely to drive the field and hit paydirt “on purpose.” 

Penn State’s soft pass defense with the game on the line in the fourth quarter was reminiscent of last year’s Rose bowl loss to USC. This team may still not be ready to play four hard quarters vs. elite competition. They are strong enough to wear down or overwhelm less-than-elite competition. 

This week

  • Ohio State (-18) at Iowa: 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • #7 Penn State (-8.5) at #24 Michigan State: noon ET on FOX

Both of those games could get very interesting with feisty home dogs hosting road favorites coming off a TV blockbuster high. That Penn State/Michigan State game is one of SEVEN matching ranked teams this Saturday. Here’s a quick look at the Wednesday evening point spreads in the other six. 

Marquee Matchups: Afternoon Session

  • #4 Clemson (-7.5) at #17 NC State: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
  • #21 Stanford at #21 Washington State (-2): 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX
  • #5 Oklahoma at #11 Oklahoma State (-2.5): 4 p.m. ET on FS1

Marquee Matchups: Prime Time (and later)

  • #13 Virginia Tech (-2.5) at #10 Miami: 8 p.m. ET on ABC
  • #19 LSU at #2 Alabama (-21.5): 8 p.m. ET on CBS
  • #22 Arizona at #17 USC (-7): 10:45 p.m. ET on ESPN

We’ll take a closer look at a few of those for you Friday, while also running the key stats from Bills/Jets. 

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