Yankees edge Red Sox in effort to keep A’s at bay in the AL wild-card race. Plus, the Cardinals are red-hot again…and it’s time to update our estimated NFL “market” Power Ratings in VSiN City.
MLB Tuesday: Only offense comes on a 3-run homer, but that’s enough for the Yanks to win
It’s a shame that this week’s Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees series doesn’t mean anything in the American League East. This rivalry is really awesome when something big is at stake. The Red Sox are going to win that division and enter the postseason a betting favorites in the AL. The Yankees will have at least one game in October. All that’s left to decide is if their wild-card “play-in” game will occur in the Bronx, or at the home stadium of the AL West runner-up (most likely Oakland).
Important win Tuesday night for the Bombers, who needed a bomb to get on the board.
NY Yankees (-160) 3, Boston 2
Total Bases Plus Walks: Boston 12, New York 11
Starting Pitchers: Eovaldi 6 IP, 0 ER, Happ 6 IP, 0 ER
Bullpen: Boston 2 IP, 3 ER, New York 3 IP, 0 ER
Neil Walker hit a three-run homer for the Yanks in the seventh inning. That was enough to put them over the top in a pitcher's duel that was rescheduled for the evening after a rainy afternoon. The Yankees move to 92-58 on the season, just slightly ahead of the A’s. Oakland entered Tuesday action at 90-60 pending its late finish on the West Coast. Boston is 103-48, and would have to finish 7-4 to reach 110 victories (an awesome landmark, though trivial in the big picture).
One big game featuring playoff contenders in the National League that we also want to feature…
St. Louis (plus 110) 8, Atlanta 1
Total Bases Plus Walks: St. Louis 19, Atlanta 15
Starting Pitchers: Gomber 5 IP, 1 ER, Sanchez 6 IP, 2 ER
Bullpen: St. Louis 4 IP, 0 ER, Atlanta 3 IP, 5 ER
Another big night for St. Louis, which seems to have recovered from that in-series, three-game losing streak to the LA Dodgers this past weekend. Weird to see what should have been about a 5-4 win turn into such a blowout. St. Louis clustered its bases well, scoring four runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. Atlanta stranded 10 runners.
We discuss the NL picture in further depth in our Wednesday “tip” in the New York Post. Want to mention here that Atlanta is barely above the .500 mark if you focus on games played in July, August, and September. Atlanta's story was written in the first half of the season. Braves aren’t currently likely to enter October as “playoff caliber.”
Somebody who IS playing that well probably WON’T make it to October. If Chicago and Milwaukee hold their current positions, there won’t be enough spots to go around for one of St. Louis, the LA Dodgers and Colorado…who all have 40 wins or more since the end of June.
With the second game from Atlanta in the books, the Cardinals rise to 84-68, while the Braves fall to 83-68 (still a comfortable six games ahead of second-place Philadelphia in the NL East with 11 to play).
Great news for STL Tuesday night in Milwaukee as we scoot to the other early finishers involving pennant race teams…
*Milwaukee (-205) LOST to Cincinnati 3-1. Brewers fall to 86-66, just two games ahead of the Cardinals for the top wildcard spot. Those two will play three games head-to-head under the arch next week.
*Houston (-170) beat Seattle 7-0. Houston is now 95-56 in its attempt to hold on to the AL West lead and home field advantage over Cleveland in the first full round of postseason action.
NFL: Our estimate of “market” Power Ratings heading into Week Three
Jonathan Von Tobel and I put our heads together again today to update our estimate of how “the market” is rating all 32 NFL teams on a Power Ratings scale. We look at current “settled” point spreads…adjust three points for home field…then create a couplet to go on the scale. Houston is -6 at home against the NY Giants this week. That would mean -3 on a neutral field. Houston must go three rungs higher than the Giants. We went with 81 and 78. Maybe 82 and 79 would be better. Maybe 80 and 77. We’ll keep making good faith efforts and learn as we go.
Some tricky spots this week because not all lines near key numbers have settled. And, there’s one game in particular that doesn’t seem to fit our usual approach. We start with the numbers, followed by comments.
86: New England, LA Rams
84: Jacksonville, Kansas City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Green Bay
83: New Orleans, Pittsburgh
82: LA Chargers
81: Baltimore, Houston
80: Cincinnati, Tennessee, Indy, Chicago, Carolina, San Francisco
79: Denver, Dallas, Tampa Bay (with Fitzpatrick)
78: Washington, NY Giants
77: Cleveland, Miami, Oakland, Detroit, Seattle
76: NY Jets
71: Buffalo, Arizona
*The Los Angeles Rams could well be the best team in the NFL right now, and certainly deserve respect at the top of the heap. The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t play well at home against Kansas City, and had a gift in the second week visiting expansion-caliber Buffalo. The market has the Rams -7 at home over the Chargers, which would be only four better on a neutral field. I stuck with the rules and went with 86 and 82 because it’s a can of worms to wonder about home field in every game. Jonathan and I agree that the market may be using little or no home field advantage for the Rams with that line (no travel for the Chargers…and the stadium is a cavern). Rams could definitely be an 87 (or even 88 at full health). Chargers feel more like an 80 or 81 based on talent, and the inconsistency of their erratic quarterback. Best assumption is that the market isn’t giving a full value for home field. We’ll see what future pricing tells us.
(Quick aside on why I use 3 points for home field. Studies have shown that the home value in the NFL is fractionally below three over a large sampling of seasons--though higher at altitude in Denver, like in all sports. While it’s true that some stadiums will have stretches that look better or worse than that, teams eventually regress toward the 3. If you hear pundits saying “so-and-so has almost no home field advantage,” that team will be back where it should be in relatively short order. If you just use 3 all the time, you’re using the number the league will converge toward moving forward. Bettors are trying to determine if market prices properly reflect the likely result in a future game after all. And, generally speaking, point spreads generally reflect “sharps using 3” rather than “sharps getting cute with 1.5 here, 4.5 there.” Using 3 is simple and efficient. “Florida” teams are undefeated straight up and ATS at home this season, though pundits will tell you they haven’t had strong home fields in recent seasons. Back to work.)
*Cleveland is currently -3 (-120) over the Jets at many shops. Tough to put the teams on the same line with the Browns getting good results against Pittsburgh and New Orleans, while the Jets lost at home last week to Miami. Went with 77 and 76 instead of putting them on the same line. There’s enough respected betting interest on the Browns at -3 (-110) to suggest composite market wisdom sees the Browns as slightly superior.
*Not convinced Indianapolis is playoff caliber. But, if you’re plus 6.5 at Philadelphia with Carson Wentz coming back (Eagles may be up as high as 86 or 87 if he regains last year’s form), then you have to go around 80 for now. Went with Eagles 84, Colts 80.
*Jags-Titans wasn’t on the board in Las Vegas as of press time. Some early offshore numbers are showing Jags -6.5. What does Jacksonville have to do to get respect, crush New England?! Jags might have improved to an 85 this season off closing around 84 last year. Market isn’t yet treating them with that level of respect.
*Atlanta-New Orleans is like Cleveland-NY Jets in that the home team is getting juiced on the key number of three. Also decided to put those teams 1 point apart for the time being. Saints have played well below expectations so far against Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
*Houston is only -6 at home against the NY Giants. Unlikely NYG is being lifted off a non-cover loss in Dallas. So, Houston comes down to 81 after struggling at Tennessee and matching the market at New England. If you watched much of Texans-Titans (with Gabbert) that feels right (or still too high for Houston).
*Miami-Oakland is less universal in terms of the home favorite of -3 getting juiced. But it’s trending that way. We stuck those teams on the same line. Maybe Miami should be a 78 after two win/covers out of the gate.
*Kansas City is sitting anywhere from -6 to -7 over San Francisco as we write this. The fact that KC is getting enough respect for some spots to test the 7 suggests a 4-point differential is the way to go. KC has impressed so far vs. teams at 80 or above, while San Francisco is still settling in to what life with Garoppolo is going to look like. Using 84 and 80. Softly.
We’ll keep an eye on these through the season. If you’re trying to beat the market, it helps to decipher what the market is thinking about the league as a whole.
See you Thursday to preview Jets-Browns and recap more pennant race baseball.
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