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Yankees, Dodgers win; Celtics lose Hayward, opener

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

October 18, 2017 12:04 AM

Big baseball playoff wins for the Yankees and Dodgers Tuesday, but a devastating loss for the Boston Celtics…as Gordon Hayward suffers a broken tibia in the NBA regular season opener. Details from a market perspective ahead in VSiN City.

ALCS: Yankees even up series at two games apiece with come-from-behind 6-4 victory
The Houston Astros were in seeming command of the game, and the ALCS when they led 4-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning early Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium. They were nine outs away from taking a 3-1 series lead…knowing that Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander (if needed) were ready to take the mound in the next two games. Verlander’s going to be needed after the Yankees scored two in the seventh, and four in the eighth to shock the Astros. 

NY Yankees (-115) 6, Houston 4
Totals Bases Plus Walks Drawn: Houston 9, NY Yankees 20
McCullers: 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 K, 2 BB, 1 HR
Gray: 5 IP, 1ER, 4 K, 2 BB, 0 HR’s

Good outings from both starters…as we were scoreless through five innings. Houston broke through for three in the sixth and one on the seventh. You can see they weren’t doing it with a high volume of “offensive bases.” They only managed NINE for the game…which is normally worth a couple of runs (it takes four bases to make a run in the big picture). The Yankees continued exceeding their playoff opponents in this area. You’ll recall they won this stat in four of the five games against the Indians as a big series underdog. It’s now 3-1 their way through four games against the heavily favored Astros. 

Game 1: NY Yankees 11, Houston 7
Game 2: Houston 13, NY Yankees 9
Game 3: NY Yankees 17, Houston 12
Game 4: NY Yankees 20, Houston 9

That adds up to 57-41 for the Yanks. Impressive considering the challenge and market expectations. They’re definitely playing like a World Series caliber team to this point. Houston did vs. Boston, but not so much in this series. 

A reminder why Houston was a heavy series favorite is coming up the next two games.

Wednesday’s Game 5: Houston at the NY Yankees (5 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. PT on FS1)
Money line: Houston -125, NY Yankees plus 110
Run Line: NY Yankees -1.5 runs (plus 170), Houston 1.5 runs (-200)
Over/Under: 8.5 (Over -125)

Keuchel opened as a short road favorite in G5 just after G4 ended. Verlander will be favored over Luis Severino in G6 too. Here’s a review of the key pitching indicator stats (as observed at the fantastic stat site, fangraphs)…

Pitching “Three True Outcomes” from Regular Season
Keuchel: 3.32 xFIP, 21.4 K%, 8.1 BB%, 0.93 HR’s per 9 IP
Tanaka: 3.44 xFIP, 25.8 K%, 5.5 BB%, 1.77 HR’s per 9 IP 

These two met back in Game 1. Tanaka only lasted six innings (89 pitches) while getting just three strikeouts in a tough visibility park for hitters. Only one run scored against him, but he didn’t have dynamic stuff given the low K-count. Keuchel struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings (109 pitches). 

We have another late afternoon starting time Wednesday, which at least appeared to favor pitchers Tuesday. Tanaka will be hoping to crank up his K-rate, while Keuchel will need to watch his walks. 

NLCS: Dodgers continue to dominate
Not much drama after the series moved to the Windy City. Even with some wind in the city! 

LA Dodgers (even) 6, Chicago Cubs 1
Totals Bases Plus Walks Drawn: LA Dodgers 23, Chicago Cubs 14
Darvish: 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 1 BB, 1 HR
Hendricks: 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 K, 1 BB, 2 HR’s

A tricky breeze wreaked havoc a few times with defenders, and may have helped with those three homers the starting pitchers allowed. Only the Dodgers were able to take advantage. Look at the consistency so far in offensive production as represented by the sum of total bases plus walks earned. 

Game 1: LA Dodgers 20, Chicago Cubs 8
Game 2: LA Dodgers 19, Chicago Cubs 7
Game 3: LA Dodgers 23, Chicago Cubs 14

The final game of the Arizona series was 22-6. The Dodgers are clearly playing World Series Championship level baseball under the postseason spotlight. Can they wrap thing up Wednesday night?

Wednesday’s Game 4: LA Dodgers at Chicago Cubs (8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT on TBS)
No line yet at deadline because of the late-night finish.

Pitching “Three True Outcomes” from Regular Season
Wood: 3.34 xFIP, 24.6 K%, 6.2 BB%, 0.89 HR’s per 9 IP
Arietta: 4.11 xFIP, 23.1 K%, 7.8 BB%, 1.23 HR’s per 9 IP 

Both are very capable. Wood rates the edge in the best skill set descriptors this season. Nice to have Clayton Kershaw as a true “ace in the hole” for Game 5 if needed Thursday. Steep hill to climb for the Cubs…which may be steeper than it seems because Chicago’s bats have been missing in action. If you were with us last week, you’ll recall that they were crushed in “offensive bases” by Washington 81-60 despite surviving the five-game series. Through eight games, the deficit is now 143-89. Looks like the Cubs can’t hit elite pitching…and the Dodgers have plenty of that fresh and ready to go.

NBA: New Boston Celtic Gordon Hayward suffers broken tibia, dislocated ankle to darken opening night
A very tough way to start a brand new NBA season. Just minutes into the first game, Gordon Hayward suffered a graphic break of his left tibia. That put a quick damper on intensity and crowd reactions for what had been a highly anticipated matchup. Though, it started to feel like real basketball again in the fourth quarter, after Boston had erased an 18-point deficit. 

LeBron James is great at real basketball! The King helped the Cavs dominate the final minutes.  

Cleveland 103, Boston 99
Two-Point Pct: Boston 51%, Cleveland 54%
Three-Pointers: Boston 8/32, Cleveland 5/22
Free Throws: Boston 19/25, Cleveland 21/25
Rebounds: Boston 46, Cleveland 49
Turnovers: Boston 12, Cleveland 17

Cleveland has a veteran roster that can once again coast into the playoffs with a strong seed. Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose have all season to figure out how to fit in. They didn’t do a good job of that Tuesday evening, combining to shoot 8 of 24 from the field (1 of 4 on treys) while turning the ball over six times. Rose had the worst plus/minus of the night be far for the Cavs, posting a -7. 

Boston now must improvise on the fly, as a planned foundation of the future will miss several months if not the season. Late evening medical reports suggested it was possible Heyward could return in time for the playoffs. 

Oddsmaker Jeff Sherman of the Westgate tweeted soon after the injury that futures prices had adjusted. Cleveland improved from 4/1 to 13/4 (plus 325) to win the NBA title at the Westgate. Boston fell from 10/1 to 20/1. To win the East, Cleveland is now -300 (it had been -200), while Boston is 7/2 (plus 350, compared to plus 225 before Heyward’s injury). 

We’ll get a good “point” read on how “the market” sees the impact later this week. Both Boston and Cleveland will face the Milwaukee Bucks before the weekend. We know that Cleveland was seen initially as about 1 to 1.5 points better on a neutral court with Tuesday’s late day line of -4.5. Its relationship with Milwaukee will let us deduce the new perceptions about Power Rating differential moving forward. 

Wednesday’s NBA schedule is huge. If you haven’t had a chance to read it already, please check out VSiN’s season preview that went up on the home page Tuesday afternoon. Look for selections inside from Brent Musburger, Mitch and Pauly, Matt Youmans and JVT, Amal Shah and Dave Tuley, plus Jeff Sherman from the Westgate. (Obviously, those predictions went up before Hayward’s injury.) 

Wednesday Tutorial: The goals of estimating “market” Power Ratings 
You long time readers know we’ve been estimating “market” Power Ratings here in VSiN City since the Big Dance back in March. Many new subscribers have joined us since football began. We’ve been getting some questions about the effort. Our Wednesday tutorial section seemed like a good place to review and discuss. 

First, the reasons we do this our many. In any battle, it helps to know your enemy. If you’re trying to outperform the market, having a clear read on how the market rates teams allows you to search for weak spots you can exploit. Too many casual fans have a “wait to see the line, then bet the game” mentality. Most sharps have more of a “make your own line, anticipate the market line, pound perceived mistakes as soon as you can at your preferred limits” approach. 

The mere exercise of trying to “deduce” how the composite of market influences (the wisdom of the crowds) perceives teams helps you see any confusion that might crop up. As we discussed yesterday, there’s a lot of confusion right now in the NFL! But the market isn’t ever perfect in any sport. They’ve missed the mark by a mile on USC in college football for example. Last year’s NBA market never gave the young, improving Philadelphia 76ers enough credit. Who knows what you’ll uncover if you do the work.

Riding herd on week-to-week ratings also help you understand how the market values various quarterback injuries in football (or star injuries in basketball). You can see at a glance how much an injured QB is “worth” compared to his backup. You also get a sense of how home field (or home court) advantage is valued by the sum of all the parts. 

And, we can’t leave out the fact that the markets are generally better than the media at knowing how teams should rank, or which teams should qualify for football’s Final Four or basketball’s Big Dance. The polls have been notoriously inferior for DECADES. VSiN can now present to you (and pollsters!) a more clear-eyed vision. That may not help your betting. But it MIGHT if the general public creates a bandwagon effect for a team that’s too highly regarded in the polls. Sharps often wait until right before kickoff to make bets against “public” teams for value against inflated spreads.

How do we compile “market” Power Ratings? We keep it simple. Try to calculate a “neutral field” point scale that shows you at once how all the teams relate to each other. Sounds overwhelming at first. But if you use some common sense at the beginning, the scale basically builds itself. Most analytics calculations generally show home field advantage in both college and football, and home court advantage in both college and pro basketball, to be worth about 3 points. Yes, it’s a bit more at a few sites, particularly when altitude is involved. It’s a bit smaller at other places that don’t offer geographic challenges or rabid fan bases. Studies have shown that 3 is a smart midpoint, partly because any short-term extremes generally regress back toward the three in the future. 

Take the point spread…remove the three points that are in the line for home field/court advantage…and that gives you the “distance” between the two teams at neutral site. A six-point home favorite should be THREE better on a neutral field. A 10-point favorite home favorite should be SEVEN better. A five-point ROAD favorite should be EIGHT better…because home field is shrinking the visitor’s edge. Be sure you’re handling those road favorites properly. 

In neutral site games (NFL matchups in London or Mexico City, college football “TV” games scheduled in neutral stadiums, college basketball tournament action), the point spread is already telling you the perceived point difference. 

Each game gives you a “couplet” that you must place on the scale. Generally speaking, the format we use has “85 or better” as championship caliber, “80 or better” as playoff caliber, with the worst NFL or NBA teams being in the low 70’s or, occasionally high 60’s in “tanking” scenarios, the worst college teams being well below that because the volume of teams is so much larger. 

The Kansas City Chiefs are -3 at Oakland Thursday night. That means KC is SIX better on our scale. Where do you fit that couplet? If you see Kansas City as equal to traditional Super Bowl caliber right now, maybe 85 and 79. If that seems a bit much, maybe 83 and 77. Something down as low as 77 and 71 wouldn’t make any sense because KC’s definitely playoff caliber, and slumping Oakland hasn’t turned into Cleveland. It’s not hard to ballpark it. And, pro sports have enough interconnectivity that you’ll be doing better than that deep in a season. 

If you have any additional questions, please drop us a note or leave a comment in the Facebook widget below this edition. Let’s get to our college football estimates for this week, that run every Wednesday. 

College Football: Updating our estimated “market” Power Ratings for Power 5 conferences
Enough preamble. Let’s amble. 

Before we get to the Power 5, Notre Dame is a major independent. We’ve lifted them to 82 as they’re laying slightly more than a field goal at home to USC…who we’ve dropped to 81 as the market continues to chase them down the scale.

SEC West: Alabama 100 vs. teams at 75 or less (lower vs. better opposition), Auburn 85, LSU 77, Mississippi State 75, Texas A&M 74, Arkansas 67, Ole Miss 67.
SEC East: Georgia 90 vs. teams at 75 or less (lower vs. better opposition), Florida 73, South Carolina 71, Tennessee 68, Kentucky 68, Vanderbilt 66, Missouri 65.

As we’ve discussed in recent weeks, both Alabama and Georgia are getting priced to win blowouts in a way that blows the scale a bit. Given that it’s mostly blowouts ahead for both…we may not be able to pin things down for Final Four assessments until the postseason. Alabama’s probably not going to be double digit favorites over healthy Clemson, Ohio State or Penn State were they to meet in January. 

Big 10 East: Ohio State 89, Penn State 87, Michigan 80, Michigan State 75, Indiana 72, Maryland 63, Rutgers 59.
Big 10 West: Wisconsin 84, Iowa 73, Purdue 71, Northwestern 69, Nebraska 69, Minnesota 68, Illinois 57.

This league has been fairly in synch since we started posting. Big game this week with Michigan visiting Penn State. 

Big 12: Oklahoma 84, Oklahoma State 84, TCU 82, West Virginia 75, Texas 74, Texas Tech 72, Iowa State 69, Kansas State 68 (Ertz hobbled), Baylor 63, Kansas 47.

Texas isn’t getting much respect as a 7-point home dog against Okie State, given close encounter covers away from Austin against USC and Oklahoma. Maybe the market believes UT’s home field advantage is below 3. Or, that the team will physically break down after last week’s rivalry battle (on the heels of an OT win over K-State). 

ACC Atlantic: Clemson 86, NC State 78, Florida State 78, Louisville 75, Wake Forest 73, Syracuse 68, Boston College 67.
ACC Coastal: Miami 81, Georgia Tech 77, Virginia Tech 77, Virginia 71, Duke 67, Pittsburgh 62, North Carolina 60.

Some “condensing” in the Atlantic after Syracuse and Boston College scored big upsets last week over Clemson and Louisville. 

Pac 12 North: Washington 85, Stanford 82, Washington State 80, Oregon 71 (injuries), California 67, Oregon State 56.
Pac 12 South: USC 81, UCLA 75, Utah 75, Colorado 73, Arizona 73, Arizona State 69.

Washington is off this week. We’ll have to see if they dropped further than we’re guessing after the awful showing at Arizona State. 

Back Thursday to recap Wednesday baseball, and to preview the NFL Thursday nighter featuring the Kansas City Chiefs at the Oakland Raiders.

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