Cubs Nationals NLDS

Tonight the Cubs play the Nationals in Washington to start the NLDS.  Let’s look at each team’s status for the year.

67.8 61.1 822 695 92 70 -3.3 1.4 CHN
71.8 73.1 819 672 97 65 6.7 -5.6 WAS

Each team balanced between BAT and PITCH.  Washington was +32 compared to the Cubs’ +22 which gives them home field advantage.  Washington has decent UR and the Cubs have climbed back from a -10 UR deficit early in the season.  Let’s see what the betting market (Ouija Board) thinks.

DATE 10_06 7:30_PM CHN WAS
LINEAWAY CHN [ 0.391 ] < 0.417 >
STARTAWAY 4.26(0.637) Kyle_Hendricks_CHN
LINEHOME WAS [ 0.617 ] < 0.600 >
STARTHOME 7.46(0.691) Stephen_Strasburg_WAS

Strasburg is Tier 1, Hendricks Tier 2.  The Cubs are underdogs tonight with a 41.7% chance of winning.  If you want to bet WAS you must think they have a greater than 60% chance of winning.  We’ll look at lineups later.  Let’s look at the starters each team will throw at this problem.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+047+ 4.26 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN PITCH
+094+ 3.17 Jake_Arrieta_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.18 Jose_Quintana_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.00 Jon_Lester_CHN PITCH
XXXXX -0.19 Jose_Quintana_CHA PITCH
XXXXX -1.01 John_Lackey_CHN PITCH
Total 7.41

Hendricks and Arrieta are the only ranked starters.

Rank WAA IP ERA Gs Gr Name_TeamID Pos
+023+ 2.79 133.3 2.63 19 5 Jon_Lester_TOT PITCH  playoffs
XXXXX 0.90 34.0 2.38 7 1 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN PITCH  playoffs
XXXXX 0.84 140.3 3.27 23 6 John_Lackey_TOT PITCH  playoffs
XXXXX -0.10 42.0 3.64 7 1 Jake_Arrieta_CHN PITCH  playoffs

Although Lackey and Lester had sub par seasons, their post season record is stellar.  Each almost pitched a complete season in the playoffs during their careers.  This kind of experience is valuable.  Hendricks has pitched very well in the playoffs too.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+004+ 8.55 Max_Scherzer_WAS PITCH
+008+ 7.46 Stephen_Strasburg_WAS PITCH
+014+ 6.47 Gio_Gonzalez_WAS PITCH
XXXXX -1.39 Tanner_Roark_WAS PITCH
Total 21.09

Outstanding starting pitching.  They only need 3 starters in a 5 game series.  Perhaps Dusty isn’t starting Scherzer because of this.

Rank WAA IP ERA Gs Gr Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX -0.36 74.7 3.74 12 4 Max_Scherzer_TOT PITCH  playoffs

None of the other WAS pitchers have much post season experience.


Let’s look at lineups tonight.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 10062017
-0.86 Ben_Zobrist_CHN RF 496
2.96 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B 665
4.85 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B 691
2.50 Willson_Contreras_CHN C 428
1.28 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN LF 486
0.50 Addison_Russell_CHN SS 385
0.57 Jason_Heyward_CHN CF 481
3.25 Javier_Baez_CHN 2B 508
-0.42 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN P 51
TOTAL WAA=14.64 PA=4191 WinPct=0.567

Cubs lineup has improved significantly since All Star break but it’s still considered Tier 2.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 10062017
1.49 Trea_Turner_WAS SS 447
6.89 Bryce_Harper_WAS RF 492
3.97 Anthony_Rendon_WAS 3B 605
4.89 Daniel_Murphy_WAS 2B 593
6.47 Ryan_Zimmerman_WAS 1B 576
-0.46 Jayson_Werth_WAS LF 289
-1.60 Matt_Wieters_WAS C 465
0.61 Michael_Taylor_WAS CF 432
-0.65 Stephen_Strasburg_WAS P 60
TOTAL WAA=21.61 PA=3959 WinPct=0.605

This is a Tier 1 lineup.  The Nationals have a Tier 1 starter with a Tier 1 lineup playing at home.  You can’t get any higher than that.  Cubs have a Tier 2 starter and a Tier 2 lineup.  Normally this is very good but this is the playoffs where the best teams end up.  Let’s look at the two lineup-starter combo pairs.

  1. 2-1 Tier 2 CHN lineup vs. Tier 1 WAS starter
  2. 1-2 Tier 1 WAS lineup vs. Tier 2 CHN starter

If we go to our run lookup table published here, pair 1 yields 4.3 runs for the Cubs, pair 2 yields 4.7 runs for WAS.  We could simulate this using the real distributions and get a Win%.  This is a rather close spread.  I guesstimate WAS would be around 55-57% favorites which is under their current line.  This would give the Cubs 43%-45% which is above their line of 41.7% but not enough.  We need a decent margin on the house to compensate for any errors.

tl;dr Both lines a discard, do not bet this game.

Note:  In theory you could add 4.3 + 4.7 = 9 and think that will be an average number of runs scored tonight.  The over/under for this game is 7.5 runs.  Our run based lineup-starter combo table uses regular season data.  Teams score more runs per game in regular season than post season so these two values are high.  They are valid figures to use in simulation however.  The regular season dataset is far deeper than  post season.

Relief Pitching

Let’s look at relievers on the playoff roster because sometimes that can tip things one way or the other (but not enough for today).

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+105+ 2.92 Mike_Montgomery_CHN PITCH
+112+ 2.79 Wade_Davis_CHN PITCH
+146+ 2.31 Brian_Duensing_CHN PITCH
+160+ 2.10 Pedro_Strop_CHN PITCH
+163+ 2.08 Carl_Edwards_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.64 Justin_Wilson_DET PITCH
XXXXX -0.32 Justin_Wilson_CHN PITCH
XXXXX -0.73 Felix_Pena_CHN PITCH
Total 12.79

Cubs relief struggled second half compared to first half but this is pretty good.  When we do playoff horse race again the above number will be put into perspective with the other 7 teams.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+064+ 3.86 Matt_Albers_WAS PITCH
+083+ 2.12 Ryan_Madson_OAK PITCH
+155+ 1.68 Brandon_Kintzler_MIN PITCH
+190+ 1.36 Sean_Doolittle_WAS PITCH
+083+ 1.36 Ryan_Madson_WAS PITCH
XXXXX 1.01 Enny_Romero_WAS PITCH
+155+ 0.53 Brandon_Kintzler_WAS PITCH
+190+ 0.50 Sean_Doolittle_OAK PITCH
XXXXX -0.23 Oliver_Perez_WAS PITCH
XXXXX -0.94 Sammy_Solis_WAS PITCH
-153- -1.78 Shawn_Kelley_WAS PITCH
Total 9.47

The National front office were busy beavers at the trade deadline and shored up a relief squad that was their Achilles heel earlier in the season when the Cubs first played them.  The names in tan are  acquisitions.  This report lists each team a player played for separately but they are ranked according to their sum of WAAs.  We might rework this report later but for now it is what it is.

That is all for now.  We might just do a playoff horse race analysis post to cover the other two matchups in NLDS and ALDS now that we have all the playoff rosters.  That table will put all 8 teams into perspective.