Baseball is back! The 2017 World Series resumes Tuesday night as the Dodgers and Astros continue their epic battle in Los Angeles. A preview, plus the ugly details from Broncos/Chiefs and our weekly update of NFL “market” Power Ratings.
World Series: Following the money is tricky…but you’ll enjoy a Halloween treat with a rematch of Verlander vs. Hill in Game 6
Not only has this been one of the most exciting World Series battles in recent history, but it’s been one of the oddest from a market perspective.
Lines are being influenced by factors that have little to do with on-field likelihoods…forcing Nevada sports books to take positions against unforeseen money from an awkward stance. You know, sports books wouldn’t mind a Game 7 either! But it’s tougher to hedge that dynamic when big money from out of town drove across the desert to hedge the same dynamic.
Be sure you listen to VSiN programming all day Tuesday for the very latest market developments in what might be the most heavily bet World Series game EVER, direct from the sports betting capital of the world.
Can we offer any help to handicappers here in VSiN City? Quite a challenge on the heels of that amazing fireworks show Sunday night.
- If these collections of truly elite hitters are no longer capable of being fooled by pitchers they’ve already seen…then we’re going to see another high scoring coin flip that might come down to the last at bat. The fences are reachable in Chavez Ravine too. Particularly with elevated swing planes after a change in baseball construction inflating the number of home runs. With these bats, contact equals home runs. Is it too hard for arm-weary pitchers to miss bats?
- If there’s one pitcher who still might have the ability to miss bats, it’s Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros. He was fantastic down the stretch of the regular season, and has been terrific in the playoffs too. Just because Houston roughed up Clayton Kershaw in a second look doesn’t mean LAD will do the same to Verlander Tuesday night.
With Sunday’s home run barrage fresh in our minds...reflective of extra innings back in Game Two when the floodgates temporarily opened in Los Angeles…it’s easy to forget that the whole series hasn’t been home run after home run after home run. Let’s review “Total Bases Plus Walks Drawn” an offensive stat we’ve been playing around with in the postseason for added perspective.
Game 1: LA Dodgers 14, Houston 6
Game 2: Houston 34, LA Dodgers 20
Game 2: Houston 20, LA Dodgers 10 (in regulation)
Game 3: Houston 23, LA Dodgers 11
Game 4: LA Dodgers 14, Houston 10
Game 5: Houston 37, LA Dodgers 33
Game 5: Houston 35, LA Dodgers 32 (in regulation)
That gets a little messy. We know that BOTH teams can light up relievers, particularly tired relievers who have had trouble missing bats under playoff pressure. Let’s look at each team in regulation.
- LA Dodgers: 14-10-11-14-32 (average 16.2, median 14)
Clearly, four disappointing offensive performances in regulation until the explosion in G5. Fortunate to win the two games they clocked 14…because that’s usually not enough against an offense like Houston’s. Does that “33” mean LAD is now confident because “they’ve seen everybody?” Or, will Verlander be able to continue his mastery that helped hold the Dodgers to 10 offensive bases in regulation on this field back in G2?
- Houston: 6-20-23-10-35 (average 18.8, median 20)
Feast or famine, with one of the “famines” being a first look at Kershaw that really isn’t relevant any more (and it was avenged anyway). The raw series total is 94-81 for Houston, who’s reached 20 or better 60% of the time, compared to just once for the Dodgers. Actually, the Dodgers only made it to higher than 14 in regulation Sunday.
Let’s look at the line…
Tuesday’s Game 6: Houston at the LA Dodgers (8:15 p.m. ET, 5:15 p.m. PT on FOX)
- Money line: LA Dodgers -120, Houston plus 110
- Run Line: Houston -1.5 runs (plus 170), LA Dodgers 1.5 runs (-190)
- Over/Under: 7.5 (Over -115) or 8 (Under -120)
Now the pitchers. Remember that we’re using Verlander’s “Houston only” numbers from the regular season for projecting performance in this series.
Pitching “Three True Outcomes” from Regular Season
- J. Verlander: 2.94 xFIP, 35.8 K%, 4.2 BB%, 1.06 HR’s per 9 IP
- Rich Hill: 3.88 xFIP, 30.1 K%, 8.9 BB%, 1.19 HR’s per 9 IP
Verlander has the more dynamic skill set. But, he didn’t strike out as many as Hill in their first meeting. And, his “6-inning, 2-hit” performance was marred because both hits were home runs.
Pitching Lines from First Meeting in G2
- Verlander: 6 IP, 2 hits, 3 earned runs, 5 K, 2 BB, on 79 pitches
- Hill: 4 IP, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 7K, 3 BB, on 60 pitches
With the Over/Under at either 7.5 or 8 depending on the store, which offense seems more likely to reach the critical number of 4 runs? If you think BOTH are, given repeat looks at pitchers for potent bats, the Over makes the most sense. If you had to pick one team, Houston seems more likely to score 4 or more because:
- They’ve reached 20 TB plus W more often in the series
- This is a second-look at a pitcher with a 3.88 xFIP
- That pitcher only lasted 4 innings the first time
- They’ve been pounding LAD relievers this series
- Juiced balls!
Houston as a short dog and Over makes some sense as a tandem because you can’t have a losing record if the Astros make it to 4 runs. Your record will either be 1-1 (winning a game that stays Under or losing a game that goes Over), 1-0-1 (winning 5-3, 6-2, 7-1, or 8-0 against a total of 8), or 2-0 (winning a game that goes Over for the sweep). Obviously, you’re exposed to getting swept if Houston can’t get to four runs! How confident are you that they will?
Good luck with your final decisions when The Clash of the 2017 Titans resumes Tuesday.
Monday Night Football: Kansas City wins ugly
About the last thing the NFL needed in the midst of recent negative publicity (and nearing the climax of an exhilarating World Series) was a Monday night yawner that had viewers checking out wrestling or the local news midway through the game. The final score makes things seem much more exciting than they were.
Kansas City (-7) 29, Denver 19
- Yards-per-Play: Denver 5.2, Kansas City 4.7
- Third Down Denver 38%, Kansas City 17%
- Turnovers: Denver 5, Kansas City 2
- Rushing Yards: Denver 177, Kansas City 79
- Passing Stats: Denver 19-36-3-187, Kansas City 14-32-1-197
- TD Drive Lengths: Denver 80-75, Kansas City 68
Arguably best if you just throw those stats out. We ran them anyway just in case some of you are keeping records from our data. Kansas City managed to lead comfortably all night while NOT moving the ball, NOT moving the chains (2 of 12 on third downs), and NOT passing for a good percentage. Despite Trevor Siemian and the imploding Denver offense handing KC field position all night, the Chiefs could only manage one offensive touchdown. The host’s first score came on a fumble return.
On Denver’s side…this wasn’t one of those “if not for the turnovers, they would have won” scenarios either. Yardage counts (364-276 and 5.2 to 4.7) make it look that way. But, Denver only moved the ball when they were down two touchdowns (TD’s coming when trailing 20-6 and 29-13). The Broncos were helpless when the game was being decided. The Chiefs were content to take candy from the baby while “running clock” on both sides of the ball.
From our “Keys to the Cover” section in the “Big Money Monday” preview that ran in Point Spread Weekly…
“Siemian hasn’t yet figured out how to throw downfield without taking the worst of the risk/reward ratio…If the Denver QB gets reckless, a ball-hawking defense and rabid crowd will eat him up.”
“Kansas City’s veteran “ball control” offensive attack will try to least try to squeeze out points against the Broncos’ brick wall. Recent history has shown disappointing “pure” offense vs. the Denver defense…which means KC’s own defense and special teams play must score themselves or set up easy tallies.”
What this game “could have been” never really got started. About 45 minutes of extended garbage time thanks to those “easy tallies.” Good work if you can get it at the top of your division. But a reminder that Kansas City lacks the explosiveness it takes to win playoff games. If this is what you do against a non-playoff team…then you’re going to be in trouble in January against teams that don’t hand you points all day. Andy Reid and Alex Smith are always in trouble in January, and don’t seem able to fix that.
Kansas City is now 6-2. Denver falls to 3-4. Since it’s bye…
Denver (-13) lost to the NY Giants 23-10, losing the TO category 3-0
Denver (-1) lost to the LA Chargers 21-0, losing the TO category 3-0
Denver (plus 7) lost to Kansas City 29-19, losing the TO category 5-2
That’s 73-29 the wrong way, as a composite 7-point favorite. Down 11-2 in turnovers with an overmatched QB.
NFL: New Estimated Market Power Ratings
Time for our weekly Tuesday update. We’ll mention here news that you’ve probably heard by now…the New England Patriots traded backup quarterback Jimmy Garappolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round draft pick in 2018. As was talked about throughout Monday evening on social media after the news broke, the Patriots don’t have any other quarterbacks on the roster. Surely, they have something in mind for bringing in a backup…perhaps a headline grabber. A bye week means they have plenty of time to find a #2 to back up Tom Brady.
Though, with the Niners involved, SF could wake up Tuesday to find out they inadvertently traded for Janeane Garofalo. Things have been that bad the past few seasons. For now, SF has said C.J. Beathard will remain the starting quarterback. Should Garappolo be given the starting job in coming weeks, their team Power Ratings would probably rise 1-3 points. A lot of respect for Garappolo in sharp circles given his performances for the Pats.
Now, to this week’s new estimated “market” Power Ratings. Here are the Monday evening lines we’ll be using to build the scale…
Buffalo (-3/43) at the NY Jets
Denver at Philadelphia (-7.5./no total yet)
LA Rams (-3.5/42) at the NY Giants
Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-7/50)
Cincinnati at Jacksonville (-4.5/39.5)
Atlanta at Carolina (-2/44)
Indianapolis at Houston (-12.5/49)
Baltimore at Tennessee (-5.5/43)
Arizona (-2.5/39) at San Francisco
Washington at Seattle (-7/45)
Kansas City at Dallas (-1/no total)
Oakland (-3/44.5) at Miami
Detroit (-2/43) at Green Bay
If this is your first Tuesday visit to VSiN City, we’re trying to build a Power Rating scale that represents the market’s composite expertise. Rather than using one guy…or one computer formula, or one poll of a handful of people, we try to capture “the sum of all models” that is expressed at any given moment by settled pointspreads. We allot three points for home-field advantage in every matchup to create a “neutral field” couplet. Then we try to find the most logical place to put that couplet on the scale.
Buffalo is -3 at the NY Jets this Thursday night, which means they should be six points higher. We went with 80 for Buffalo and 74 for the Jets. Maybe it should be 81 and 75. Maybe only 79 and 73. Over time we try to pin things down as best as possible in an evolving market.
84: New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Philadelphia
82: Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans, Seattle
80: Buffalo, Houston, Minnesota, LA Rams
79: Tennessee, Jacksonville, Oakland, Denver, LA Chargers
78: Washington, Detroit, Tampa Bay
76: Baltimore, Chicago, Arizona (w/Stanton)
74: NY Jets
73: Miami, NY Giants, Green Bay
71: Indianapolis, San Francisco
A few notes…
- Buffalo jumped up from last week because of the need to create a distance of six points over the Jets. That’s not consistent with how either have been priced late. Buffalo’s been covering spreads. The market is playing chase. The Bills will have to play well on the road against a top team before we push them any higher than 80.
- Not sure how Arizona leapt up to being 5.5 better than San Francisco on a neutral field given recent pricing. Sure, San Francisco fell apart. Arizona got routed by the Rams in London before their bye. Maybe SF is being docked for apparent tanking the past two weeks.
- Oakland laying -3 at Miami suggests a big move too. Miami “with Moore” must have taken a hit off that horrible loss at Baltimore…where the Dolphins and Ravens were rated “even” on a neutral field before kickoff. We were ready to drop the Raiders but couldn’t with that line.
Who’s the best team in the NFL? We have the four obvious suspects all at 84 this week. Nobody’s been able to differentiate themselves from that pack.
That wraps up our Tuesday report. See you Wednesday for a Game 6 World Series recap, a Game 7 preview if it goes the distance, plus our weekly estimate of college football “market” Power Ratings.
If you missed Dave Tuley’s surprising story about how the college football handle has surpassed that of the NFL in each of the past three weeks at the South Point, please click here for notes on that shocking development and comments from Jimmy Vaccaro.
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