Cubs Nationals series analysis

Today the Cubs take on the Washington Nationals in a standard day game at Wrigley.   We covered them here when they played them earlier at the end of June.  Here is the current team status line for WAS.

76.8 17.0 422 330 45 29 0.9 -3.7 WAS 6/26/2017
87.2 26.8 581 473 63 43 -1.7 -4.3 WAS 8/4/2017

ARI is +20 now and they were +16 in June so they have cooled from the team that started this season.  It also proves baseball is a long slog.  If they play 0.500 from now until the end of the season +20 gets them to 91-71.  Both their BAT and PITCH are up and they may have made some trades to shore up their poor relief.  Here’s what the Ouija Board has to say.

DATE 08_04 2:20_PM WAS CHN
LINEAWAY WAS [ 0.435 ] < 0.391 >
STARTAWAY -1.55(0.441) Tanner_Roark_WAS
LINEHOME CHN [ 0.600 ] < 0.624 >
STARTHOME 0.92(0.559) Kyle_Hendricks_CHN

It started out with the Cubs favored at 0.600 or 60% chance of winning.  That means if you want to bet the Cubs today you’ll have to risk $1.50 to win $1.  Now it’s even higher at the noon snapshot.  We’ll get into  handicapping at the end of this report.  Tanner Roark is having a bad season so far. Let’s look at his career to get an overall picture.

Year WAA Name_TeamID Pos Rank
2013 3.0 Tanner_Roark_WAS PITCH +090+
2014 3.9 Tanner_Roark_WAS PITCH +053+
2015 -1.0 Tanner_Roark_WAS PITCH -300-
2016 6.4 Tanner_Roark_WAS PITCH +014+
2017 -1.6 Tanner_Roark_WAS PITCH -123-
Total 10.7

He has had a solid tumultuous career as a pitcher which means he’s very capable of throwing a shutout today.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+002+ 7.35 Max_Scherzer_WAS PITCH
+005+ 5.67 Gio_Gonzalez_WAS PITCH
+049+ 3.17 Stephen_Strasburg_WAS PITCH
XXXXX 0.67 Edwin_Jackson_WAS PITCH

Cubs will probably see two out of three of the above in this series.  I was surprised to see Edwin Jackson is still pitching.  He came to WAS after tanking at Baltimore this year and has pitched above average so far.  Let’s hope he’s in the rotation for the Cubs. Here are the lineups for today.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 08042017
0.34 Brian_Goodwin_WAS CF 237
-0.57 Howie_Kendrick_TOT LF 174
6.59 Bryce_Harper_WAS RF 439
4.54 Daniel_Murphy_WAS 2B 416
3.30 Anthony_Rendon_WAS 3B 406
2.25 Adam_Lind_WAS 1B 177
-1.05 Matt_Wieters_WAS C 323
-0.08 Wilmer_Difo_WAS SS 190
-1.03 Tanner_Roark_WAS P 42
TOTAL WAA=14.28 PA=2404 WinPct=0.614

This is around the same value lineup as what Arizona had.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 08042017
-0.63 Jon_Jay_CHN CF 243
1.26 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B 436
2.35 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B 464
1.68 Willson_Contreras_CHN C 348
-0.84 Ben_Zobrist_CHN 2B 310
-0.21 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN LF 331
0.25 Jason_Heyward_CHN RF 300
0.88 Javier_Baez_CHN SS 313
-0.19 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN P 24
TOTAL WAA=4.56 PA=2769 WinPct=0.532

Cubs lineup has been hovering around 0.532 all season.  Bryant, Rizzo, and Contreras are climbing the MLB ladder.  We’ll talk more about this at status report day on Saturday.

Relief numbers will start to differ greatly from their seasonal numbers due to acquisition and the Nationals needed help with relief. Here is their current seasonal status.

TeamID WAA IP WinPct
WAS -5.35 310.2 0.422

For a team with a positive PITCH that is pretty bad and it’s near bottom of MLB.  But that number represents the past and the past is over.  What happens next does not depend on that number at all.  The Nationals have been busy with the trade market.  We downloaded their roster and these players are listed as their current relievers.  I haven’t double checked this yet so assume it’s correct.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+103+ 2.18 Matt_Albers_WAS PITCH
-101- -1.74 Joe_Blanton_WAS PITCH
XXXXX 0.48 Sean_Doolittle_OAK PITCH
XXXXX -0.23 Sean_Doolittle_WAS PITCH
XXXXX 0.15 Matt_Grace_WAS PITCH
+139+ 1.74 Brandon_Kintzler_MIN PITCH
+139+ 0.13 Brandon_Kintzler_WAS PITCH
+081+ 2.08 Ryan_Madson_OAK PITCH
+081+ 0.50 Ryan_Madson_WAS PITCH
XXXXX 0.34 Oliver_Perez_WAS PITCH
XXXXX 0.42 Enny_Romero_WAS PITCH

The names in tan are relief acquisitions and they got some good pitchers from OAK and MIN.  If you add that up that’s over +5 which is a complete 180 from the start of the season.  If WAS wants to win a World Series they’ll have a very hard time advancing in the playoffs with a relief staff that sucks.  It was their Achilles heel and the Cubs took advantage of that in the last series.  It won’t be so easy today.

Let’s Handicap!

The following is conjecture and a Work in Progress.  WAS has a real WAA=+20 and the Cubs are at +7.  This means:

deltaWAA = | 7 – 20 | = 13  where ARI is favored

Their starting pitchers is

deltaWAA = | 0.92 – (-1.55) | =~ 2.5  where CHN is favored

According to the table we compiled in part 1 of our historical data analysis, a +13 deltaWAA for true wins means the leading team wins 0.600 or 60% of the time.

NoteThe original table posted on that above link was in error.  There was a bug in the code that generates it.  This is all new code so foibles like that sometimes occur.   It will be updated later with an update explanation.

There is a huge deltaWAA for lineups in favor of ARI but our table posted here shows that doesn’t matter much.  That doesn’t mean the lineup difference doesn’t matter, it means we don’t know yet.  The pitcher table on that link gives the Cubs between 0.53 and 0.54 advantage.

The Cubs are greater than +8 in relief now and still top tier MLB.  WAS has good relief as well so those may not be a factor today like they were at the end of June.

What does this all mean?  I don’t know since we don’t have a handle on lineups vs. pitching yet.  We know WAS is up big in W/L and lineups and down big in pitching.  Does that mean they should be underdogs at 39% chance?  Eyeballing this it appears the Cubs may be over valued again due to irrational exuberance.  This has been a pattern all season at home.

I don’t gamble and this is not a recommendation — just an observation.  We have 7 years of daily lines for every baseball stored ready to test any crackpot theory.  Talking through this here benefits the process of discovering a theory that can detect irrational exuberance in the betting market.

Forgot today is Friday.  We’ll do state of the Cubs tomorrow (Saturday).  Then maybe dip into the minors and see how the Cubs’ and White Sox’ farm systems are doing.  Until then….