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Cubs defy numbers and Nats to advance

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

October 13, 2017 12:16 AM

Cubs Win!! Dodgers up next in the NLCS. Yankees/Astros set to begin the ALCS Friday night. On the gridiron, the Eagles defense makes a statement in Carolina. Plus…is another pro team moving to Vegas? So much to discuss in VSiN City!

NL Playoffs: Cubs Win! Defending world champs beat Washington 9-8 as Nats strand 13 runners in Game 5 finale

Many of you watched this thriller…so you know that Chicago made the most of its opportunities while Washington left runners on base all evening. But if you were watching NFL much of the night, then had your Dish Network feed lose TBS in the bottom of the eighth inning (I wasn’t alone!), take a look at these key numbers… 

Chicago (pick-em) 9, Washington 8

  • Totals Bases Plus Walks Drawn: Chicago Cubs 19, Washington 32
  • Hendricks: 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 K, 1 BB, 1 HR’s
  • Gonzalez: 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 K, 4 BB, 0 HR’s

How can you win a game where you only get 19 offensive bases (worth about 5 runs) while your opponent gets 32 (worth about 8 runs, which is what Washington scored)? 

Chicago turned:

  • 5 singles
  • 4 doubles
  • 0 home runs
  • 1 of 11 with runners in scoring position

Into NINE runs! They were helped by two Washington errors (and six walks). Nats ace Max Scherzer pitched the fifth inning and allowed four runs by himself. Only two were earned. 

Washington, meanwhile, turned two home runs, three doubles, nine singles, and nine walks into a one-run season-ending heartbreaking loss. 

Final per-game totals in Total Bases Plus Walks Earned…

  • Game 1: Chicago 9, Washington 5
  • Game 2: Washington 18, Chicago 16
  • Game 3: Chicago 9, Washington 5
  • Game 4: Washington 21, Chicago 7
  • Game 5: Washington 32, Chicago 19 

That’s 81-60 for the team that lost the series. Chicago must do a lot better than 9-16-9-7-19 in the next round if they’re going to return to the Fall Classic. 

Let’s go in schedule order as we work our way to the next round of the playoffs. We just covered Thursday’s final. Now we move to Friday’s start of the ALCS.

ALCS: Houston Astros host New York Yankees Friday night in Game 1

No time to rest for the New York Yankees, who barely had time to celebrate Wednesday night’s Game 5 win over the Cleveland Indians in the divisional round. Houston has its rotation set because they wrapped up their series with the Boston Red Sox in four games.

Best of 7 for the AL Pennant…NY Yankees vs. Houston Astros

  • Series Price: Houston -170, NY Yankees plus 150
  • Game 1: Friday at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT on FS1
  • Game 2: Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT on FOX

Before we get to the starting pitchers, let’s recap the key indicator stats we’ve been using to evaluate offenses and bullpens. Handicapping baseball is more than just looking at starting pitchers! The number you see by each team are their league ranking in each stat.

AL Road Offense

1…Houston 6.2 runs per game

3…NY Yankees 5.0 runs per game

As we’ve discussed all season, Houston’s offense has been historically fantastic. Yes, scoring was way up this year because of changes in baseball construction. But, everyone played with the same balls…and Houston scored much more than anyone else in road games…a great way to take out the polluting influence of a home stadium. You regulars know that Minute Maid Park has actually been the best PITCHERS’ park in Major League Baseball the past two seasons, despite its reputation as a bandbox. 

Don’t get us wrong…the Yankees had a very good offense too away from home. The offensive edge goes to Houston in this battle of elite lineups. 

AL Relievers xFIP

2…Houston 3.69

4…NY Yankees 3.80

All pitcher analytics stats come from the great fangraphs website. The numbers you see above reflect a fielding independent measure that’s designed to run along the same scale as ERA. Unfortunately, it isn’t park-adjusted. So, Houston’s “true” ability wouldn’t grade out so well because all their home games are in a great pitching environment. The Yankees were strong all season, and made additional acquisitions that made them “built for the playoffs.” We’ll give the bullpen edge to the Yanks after accounting for those influences. 

Game 1: NY Yankees at Houston (8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT on FS1)

  • Money line: Houston -160, NY Yankees plus 140
  • Run line: Houston -1.5 runs (plus 130), NY Yankees plus 1.5 runs (-150)
  • Over/Under: 8 (Over -120)

Starting Pitchers’ Classic Stats

  • Tanaka (Yankees): 4.74 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
  • Keuchel (Astros): 2.90 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

Tanaka had stretches this season where he was home run fodder, which spiked his ERA to very ugly levels. When he’s on, he’s really on. Those home run issues could loom large in the two ballparks he’ll be pitching in. 

Starting Pitchers’ “Three True Outcome” Stats

  • Tanaka (Yankees): 3.44 xFIP, 25.8 K%, 5.5 BB%, 1.77 HR’s per 9 IP
  • Keuchel (Astros): 3.32 xFIP, 21.4 K%, 8.1 BB%, 0.93 HR’s per 9 IP

Note how much better Tanaka looks when you focus on his ability to get strikeouts and avoid issuing walks. He rates the edge over Keuchel in imposing his will. The problem is, when hitter’s make contact the ball is more likely to go over a fence. 

The market is giving the Astros and Keuchel a lot of respect in the opener. Is it…maybe…too much respect based on Tanaka’s K/BB ratio?

We’re a weekday newsletter, which means we won’t be back before Saturday afternoon’s Game 2. Odds aren’t posted yet for the 4:08 p.m. ET start on FOX. Let’s run those pitching stats for you…

G2 Starting Pitchers’ Classic Stats

  • Severino (Yankees): 2.98 ERA, 1.04 WHIP
  • Verlander (Astros): 3.36 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

Great year for Severino…but this is obviously a clash of ace caliber pitchers. 

G2 Starting Pitchers’ “Three True Outcome” Stats

  • Severino (Yankees): 3.04 xFIP, 29.4 K%, 6.5 BB%, 0.98 HR’s per 9 IP
  • Verlander (Astros): 4.17 xFIP, 25.8K%, 8.5 BB%, 1.18 HR’s per 9 IP

Verlander was more effective after coming over to the Astros than those stats make it look. And…his stuff…in this ballpark…can be very tough for opponents to deal with. The market will price for a pitcher’s duel (particularly with daylight coming awkwardly through the side windows). 

The baseball schedule continues Saturday night with the start of the NLCS…

NLCS: Well-rested Los Angeles Dodgers will host sleepy, road-weary Cubs 

A lot of avid baseball fans hated that Game 5 of the divisional round went so deep into the night Thursday. You know who loved it? The Los Angeles Dodgers! After sweeping Arizona in three straight, LAD has been resting and preparing. Their opponent will be playing its third game in three different cities in just four days…

Best of 7 for the NL Pennant…Chicago Cubs at the Los Angeles Dodgers

Game 1: Saturday at 8:08 p.m. ET, 5:08 p.m. PT on TBS

Game 2: Sunday at 7:38 p.m. ET, 4:38 p.m. PT on TBS

Prices for the series and Game 1 obviously weren’t set before our publication deadline because of Thursday night’s late finish. 

NL Road Offense

6…Chicago Cubs 4.8 runs per game

7…LA Dodgers 4.6 runs per game

A little misleading because the Dodgers had a stretch where they weren’t healthy. When everyone’s in the lineup…this offense really rocks. You saw that vs. Arizona with TB plus Walks Earned counts of 24-18-22 against quality pitching. Only Houston has been more impressive this postseason in terms of volume and consistency (only Houston and LAD hit 18 or more in at least three consecutive games). We have to give the edge to LAD given the disappointing raw production from the Cubs in the last series. 

NL Relievers xFIP

1…LA Dodgers 3.64

4…Chicago Cubs 4.11

The best bullpen in the National League according to xFIP is well-rested, and has some extra quality arms for middle relief because superfluous starters can be used to eat innings if needed. Their opponent had to scramble the other night to get here. Edge Dodgers. 

Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1 for LAD. They wouldn’t commit beyond that publicly until they knew who they’d be facing. Be sure you watch VSiN programming Friday and all weekend for market updates in both this series and the ALCS.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles win misleadingly high scoring game over Carolina

It ended up being a high scoring game that could have gone even higher. But, the raw stats from Thursday night’s victory for the Philadelphia Eagles suggest a defensive struggle that blew up from cheap points. 

Philadelphia (plus 3) 28, Carolina 23 

  • Yards-per-Play: Philadelphia 5.2, Carolina 3.9
  • Total Yards: Philadelphia 310, Carolina 305
  • Third Down Pct: Philadelphia 36%, Carolina 25%
  • Rushing Yards: Philadelphia 101, Carolina 80
  • Passing Stats: Philadelphia 16-30-0-209, Carolina 28-52-3-225
  • Turnovers: Philadelphia 1, Carolina 3
  • Touchdown Drive Lengths: Philadelphia 12-17-75, Carolina 43-75

A quick and easy formula can convert raw yardage into a “stat score” that reflects how a game “should” have ended before adjusting for turnovers (2 times rushing yardage, plus passing yardage, times 0.67, divided by 15). That formula would show Philadelphia winning 18-17. Turnovers helped put extra points on the board, as you can see from those short scoring drives. 

Ultimately, this was a defensive win for the Eagles. That’s big news because the team hadn’t really graded out all that well defensively against a tough schedule, as we discussed in yesterday’s preview. Here, they held Carolina to a very low 3.9 YPP, a very low 25% on third downs (4 of 16), and forced 24 incomplete passes along with three interceptions. Make THAT your takeaway from this evening. 

Carson Wentz is likely to get more credit than he deserves because those three TD drives all ended with passes. Those will make the highlight reels without the cheap point context. Third downs were an issue…particularly in the final moments when he couldn’t ice the win. A first quarter fumble spiked a scoring drive. Still, a big road win as Wentz and company took advantage of mistakes their defense forced.

Philadelphia moves to 5-1 straight up, 4-2 ATS. Carolina falls to 4-2 and 3-3. 

Next up…

Carolina: at the Chicago Bears on Sunday October 22

Philadelphia: vs. the Washington Redskins on Monday October 23

Las Vegas: Golden Knights cashing NHL tickets, as rumors start about WNBA’s San Antonio Stars moving to town

We weren’t going to talk much about the Vegas Golden Knights here in the VSiN City newsletter until the rest of the very busy sports schedule calmed down. They were more of a community story in recent weeks rather than a “sports betting” story. And our broadcast division was doing a fantastic job of covering the excitement about the Golden Knights in Las Vegas. 

But…now…with a very hot start to the 2017 season (three straight wins, two as underdogs), the Golden Knights are becoming a betting story! They take home ice again Friday night against the Detroit Red Wings…another beatable opponent that could keep the T-Mobile center rocking. Detroit’s on night two of a back-to-back after visiting struggling Arizona as a short road dog Thursday. 

VGK will likely be a market favorite in that scenario. Early lines weren’t posted before our publication deadlines because the Wings were playing that late starter in Phoenix. 

This high energy burst with profit potential could continue for awhile. This past Saturday night’s win for VGK over Arizona was the start of a seven-game homestand. Coming up...

Friday: vs. Detroit

Sunday: vs. Boston

Tuesday: vs. Buffalo

Saturday October 21: vs. St. Louis

Tuesday October 24: vs. Chicago

Friday October 27: vs. Colorado

That’s followed by a lengthy and challenging six-game road trip that will include two back-to-back spots. 

We also wanted to alert you that Associated Press basketball writer Doug Feinberg tweeted Thursday night that the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA “were in negotiations to move the team to Las Vegas.” 

VSiN has been telling you since Day 1 that Las Vegas was a great town for professional sports. The buzz continues to build and the Oakland Raiders aren’t even here yet!

Not any real “marquee” matchups in college football for us to dig into (no games at all this week matching teams in the AP Top 25 going head-to-head). Once those start arriving more regularly on the schedule, we’ll jump into that sport like we’re wearing flubber. Of course, our Point Spread Weekly magazine goes in depth on every board game! Click here to subscribe. Just $99 for the full season. 

Follow the latest from VSiN this weekend by downloading our app, and by following us on twitter. If you have any comments or questions about anything in the VSiN universe, please drop us a note or post your thoughts in the Facebook widget below. 

Have a great weekend!

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