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Capitals continue to dominate with consistent scoring

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

June 5, 2018 12:04 AM

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Michal Kempny slips the puck past Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) in the third period.
© USA Today Sports Images

Caps in command! A rollicking 6-2 Monday night rout gives Washington a 3-1 series lead over the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. An update on the Caps' amazing scoring consistency, plus more baseball math today in VSiN City.

NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Washington one win away, dominant since early in Game 2
Vegas threw everything including the kitchen sink at the Washington net in the opening minutes of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The kitchen sink left a dent in the right pipe in one of several near misses that frustrated the Golden Knights.

In the immediate aftermath of that early frenzy, Washington struck at 9:54, 16:26, and 19:39 of the first period to put the game out of reach. The rest of the night was just playing out the string…until some late thrills for those of you who like watching pushing and shoving. 

To the degree there was good news for Vegas, it did finally stop a multi-game scoring blitz that saw the Caps outscore VGK 10-2 from down 1-0 early in Game 2 all the way to leading 4-0 in Game 4. Hard to dominate a championship series to that degree for that duration. Washington is playing at a very high level.  

Washington (-125) 6, Vegas 2 
Shots: Vegas 30, Washington 23
Power Plays: Vegas 0/4, Washington 3/5

Vegas didn’t roll over when it fell behind. But the Golden Knights weren’t attacking at top speed after that early barrage…shellshocked by how vulnerable their own defense was when Washington’s top scoring threats were on the ice. Those top threats are obviously in action on power plays. Washington took full advantage of any chippiness from the Knights. And the Caps again showed a dramatic edge in 4-on-4 hockey. Note that Vegas is 1 of 11 on power plays the last three games. 

Washington has still scored at least three goals in every game of the series thus far, and has reached that threshold six games in a row counting the Tampa Bay series. Still just one night in the whole playoffs (23 games now) where Washington scored only one goal. No shutouts. 

Versus Columbus: 3-4-3-4-4-6
Versus Pittsburgh: 2-4-4-1-6-2
Versus Tampa Bay: 4-6-2-2-2-3-4
Versus Vegas: 4-3-3-6

We talked Monday about the hidden power of scoring consistency. Looks like Vegas must score at least four goals to win a game…or hope for a flat performance from Washington if the Caps get complacent with a commanding series lead. 

That flat performance could happen Thursday in Game 5. Once again, there are two days off for travel. Longtime gamblers (and sports fans) know that you’ll often see a super-motivated effort from a host down 3-1 fighting for survival.

Game 5 will be Thursday in Vegas. Once again, two off days for travel. No early line as of our press deadlines. We’ll guess around Vegas -140 with a total of 5.5 based on earlier pricing. Washington will have home ice if needed in Game 6, where it leads the scoreboard 9-2 thus far. 

MLB: Yankees once again huge favorites, winners with Luis Severino on the mound
A light schedule in Monday bases, so we won’t run too many summaries. Let’s focus on the Yankees-Tigers doubleheader because Luis Severino continued the long storyline of seeming way too expensive before getting another easy win. 

NY Yankees (-285) 7, Detroit 4 (Game 1 of a DH)
Total Bases Plus Walks: New York 22, Detroit 9
Starting Pitchers: Severino 8 IP, 1 ER, VerHagen 3.2 IP, 7 ER
Bullpen: New York 1 IP, 0 ER, Detroit 5.1 IP, 0 ER

Three home runs for the Yankees, including a 3-run shot by Austin Romine. You can see that Severino lasted eight strong innings. A high pitch count of 112 made some sense in a double header…though saving the bullpen for Game Two ultimately didn’t help. Detroit scored three unearned runs. Aroldis Chapman picked up save No. 14 on the season. 

Severino lowered his ERA down to 2.20, with a WHIP of 0.93. He’s particularly dangerous on this team because he only has to go six strong innings to hand off to an elite bullpen. And he’s likely to get run support given this stellar offense. The Yankees have won 10 straight Severino starts, and are 12-1 this season when he’s on the mound. 

Detroit (plus 180) 4, NY Yankees 2 (Game 2 of a DH)
Total Bases Plus Walks: New York 17, Detroit 18
Starting Pitchers: German 6.2 IP, 4 ER, Fiers 5.2 IP, 2 ER
Bullpen: New York 1.1 IP, 0 ER, Detroit 3.1 IP, 0 ER

Similar total of offensive bases. Yanks didn’t do as much with theirs as they should have. The split puts New York at 38-18, a game behind Boston in the AL East (though very comfortably in the Wildcard race). Detroit is now 29-32, which sounds trivial…but is just 2.5 games out of first place behind Cleveland in the AL Central.

Where did that come from?! Didn’t Detroit fall off the map earlier this season? Apparently, the Tigers held on by their fingertips after a 4-9 start. They were 20-28 just two weeks ago. But, this 9-4 run has put them right back in the thick of a bad division’s race. If Cleveland never finds that extra gear, who knows who might win the AL Central?

MLB Handicapping: Adding to our discussion of turning runs into money lines
Last week in our Wednesday tutorial, we talked about how you can turn run projections into money-line projections. In short, even though baseball teams aren’t scoring “dollars and cents” when trying to win…both runs (by way of Pythagorean projections) and money lines (by way of win equivalents) can be expressed as win percentages

It’s win percentages that bridge the gap. A team projected to win a baseball game 5-4 should win that game about 61% of the time (recapping: using runs squared divided by the sum of runs squared plus runs allowed squared gets us to 25 divided by 41, which is .610).

A no-vig money line of -150 means a favorite is expected to win about 60% of the time (that’s the break-even point at that price). Ergo, if your methodology spits out a 5-4 projection, you know that the favorite should be a touch higher than -150. You can bet accordingly once you see the market price (taking favorites closer to pick-em, or dogs at much higher lines).

We mentioned at the time that any system or model won’t often get whole numbers like five or four. More like 5.2 to 3.8 for a nine-run game, or maybe 3.7 to 3.3 for a pitcher’s duel in a late game out West. You can still use the Pythagorean method to make a price. It just takes a little longer if you’re doing it by hand or without a spreadsheet.

With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to put together some examples for you that will cut down on your math time. Today, here are the no-vig equivalents for a variety of projections ending in exactly 8 runs. If you see an Over/Under of 8…this is the range you’re dealing with.

Games with an Over/Under of 8 runs
4.1 to 3.9 means a vig-free line of -110
4.2 to 3.8 means a vig-free line of -120
4.3 to 3.7 means a vig-free line of -135
4.4 to 3.6 means a vig-free line of -150
4.5 to 3.5 means a vig-free line of -170
4.6 to 3.4 means a vig-free line of -185
4.7 to 3.3 means a vig-free line of -200
4.8 to 3.2 means a vig-free line of -225
4.9 to 3.1 means a vig-free line of -250
5.0 to 3.0 means a vig-free line of -275
5.1 to 2.9 means a vig-free line of -310
5.2 to 2.8 means a vig-free line of -350
5.3 to 2.7 means a vig-free line of -395
5.4 to 2.6 means a vig-free line of -440
5.5 to 2.5 means a vig-free line of -490

If you’re not familiar with the term “no-vig,” that just means the money line price before any vigorish as been added into the mix. You probably know that most sports books use “20-cent” lines in baseball. A no-vig line of -110 would mean the favorite is -120, the underdog even money at those sites. A no-vig line of -150 means you see -160 and plus 140 on the board.

Some stores use a “10-cent” line. At those locales, a no-vig line of -120 means you see -125 and plus 115 on the board. If you see -155 and plus 145 on the board, that means a no-vig line of -150. 

If you make your own run projections, you can read that chart from left to right. But, if you’re just wondering what a line “means” in scoreboard terms, you can go from right to left. Let’s say you see a game with an Over/Under of 8 runs, and the no-vig line is -170 (favorite -180, underdog plus 160), the market is telling you it’s grading out the favorite at 4.5 runs, the underdog at 3.5 runs. 

That can help you pin down selections. If you think both teams will top those projections, the Over is the way to go. If you think neither will, then the Under makes sense. If you see one team making it, and the other not…then you could bet the team that’s going to make it because they’ve been mispriced in your view. The trick, of course, is knowing how to make smart run projections. 

More on this topic as the season progresses (particularly after days with light schedules!)

WNBA: Updating our estimated “market” Power Ratings 
Wanted to keep up with these for bettors interested in the WNBA. A bit tricky right now because Minnesota was FINALLY docked for its horrible start the last time out. Though, the Lynx also had an injury that day (plus 6 at Los Angeles). Washington had a brutal schedule stretch without star Elena Delle Donne. She’s due to get over her illness just as the travel schedule calms down.

87: Connecticut
86: Los Angeles
83 (?): Minnesota
82: New York, Phoenix
81: Atlanta, Washington (with Delle Donne)
80: Dallas, Seattle
79: Washington (without Delle Donne)
74: Indiana
73: Chicago
71: Las Vegas

We’ll stick a question mark by Minnesota for the time being. They’ll probably be higher than that at full strength. But at 0-7 ATS…the market clearly overestimated their early level of play. Consider the Washington numbers soft. We’ll pin those down more accurately with a larger sample size featuring Delle Donne.

Updating Minnesota’s slow start from our last report:
Minnesota (-7) lost at home to Los Angeles 77-76
Minnesota (-13) only beat Dallas at home 76-68
Minnesota (-6.5) won at New York 78-72
Minnesota (-5.5) lost at Washington 90-78
Minnesota (-5.5) lost at Atlanta 76-74
Minnesota (-8) lost to Phoenix 95-85
Minnesota (plus 6) lost at Los Angeles 77-69

A straight up record of 2-5 is a shocker, as Minnesota was favored by at least 5.5 points in six of seven outings. You may have watched some of that home loss to Phoenix on ESPN last week (light TV night with the NBA and NHL Finals both off). Not vintage Lynx basketball at all, particularly on defense. 

We’ll monitor the WNBA through the summer. Be aware that this IS a sport that sharps will bet. Many sharps believe they have a better edge over oddsmakers in this sport than in the NBA.

Belmont Week: Post position drawing scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. ET
Late word Monday that Seahenge will not be part of the Belmont field this coming Saturday, as Justify goes for the Triple Crown. That means a 10-horse field barring any last-second surprises. 

The drawing for post positions will occur Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. Las Vegas time). We’ll have those numbers for you in our Wednesday report. 

Also, don’t forget to purchase our digital Belmont preview publication for just $19.99. Subscribers to Point Spread Weekly will receive it for no charge. If you’re not yet a subscriber, take care of that now for a calendar year at $149.99…and the Belmont preview will automatically be included in your purchase. 

Back with you Wednesday to preview Game Three of the NBA Finals as the Warriors and Cavs head to Cleveland for the first time this series. Our next NHL preview will be Thursday. 

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