NLCS Game 1

Cubs play the Dodgers in LA tonight.  Just when we thought we were done  looking at Larry King’s mug last year in the NLCS, we may suffer that fate once again.  The Cubs have a worse team than last year, the Dodgers have a better team, and the Cubs  barely won NLCS last year.   Fortunately for the Cubs,  MLB forces them to play the games and not determine who wins based upon a computer simulation.

Here are the value numbers for all 4 teams left in the playoffs.

TeamID Hitters Pitchers Starters Relief Total W-L
NYA 23.76 27.71 11.05 16.66 51.47 20
HOU 25.58 20.83 17.85 2.98 46.41 40
LAN 12.18 33.80 19.90 13.90 45.98 46
CHN 18.85 20.93 7.41 13.52 39.78 22

This is the same table we compiled for our playoff horse race series which show the total WAA for each category.  Relief and Starters add to make Pitchers.  Pitchers and Hitters add to make Total.  The W-L column represents real wins and losses for the regular season which doesn’t matter anymore.

LAN will field a Tier 2 lineup throughout the playoffs.  The Cubs also have a Tier 2 lineup.  According to the above the Cubs’ have slightly better hitting even though both teams are in the same set we use for lineup-starter combo pairs.  The Cubs have the least overall value of the 4 teams left but they accrued most all of that value since All Star break.  The Dodgers flat lined the last bunch of weeks in the season.   That doesn’t matter in our analysis.  It’s just something to consider if you’re applying ifs ands or buts to your handicapping — which we don’t.

Anyway, here’s what the betting markets (aka Ouija Board) has to say about tonight’s probabilities.

DATE 10_14 8:05_PM CHN LAN
LINEAWAY CHN [ 0.385 ] < 0.351 >
STARTAWAY 0.88(0.521) Jose_Quintana_TOT
LINEHOME LAN [ 0.643 ] < 0.672 >
STARTHOME 8.27(0.713) Clayton_Kershaw_LAN
CHN 92 70 LAN 104 58

LAN is favored by over 2-1 tonight which is a huge premium Dodger bettors must pay. The Cubs have lots of problems.  Out of service pitchers, had to fly from Washington to LA with a flight diversion.

The Cubs also have big problems with starting pitching these first two games.  Quintana pitched 2 outs in game 5 two days ago.  Hendricks is out.  Lester is out.  Wade Davis is probably out.  Arrieta out.  That leaves John Lackey who has this playoff record.

Rank WAA IP ERA Gs Gr Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX 0.84 140.3 3.27 23 6 John_Lackey_TOT PITCH  playoffs

Over 140 innings pitched and he’s unranked but above average.  If he could pitch above average tonight or tomorrow that should be perfectly acceptable.  Lackey hasn’t had a good season this year so who knows.  The upside is he pitches OK, the downside is he loses game 1 or 2 completely.  This situation is better than losing game 5 in the NLDS.  It’s unclear how long Quintana can pitch tonight.  This is his moment to shine however so maybe he’ll surprise us.

Quintana is considered Tier 3 and Kershaw Tier 1.  We have these two lineup-starter combo pairs.

  1. 2-1  Tier 2 CHN lineup vs. Tier 1 LAN starter —> 4.3 runs for CHN
  2. 2-3  Tier 2 LAN lineup vs. Tier 3 CHN starter —> 4.9 runs for LAN

The above can be simulated to generate a Win% but we haven’t finished that yet.  The above two pairs do not warrant a 0.671 probability according to the LAN line in the Ouija Board.   LAN has far better relief than the Cubs so that would boost them as well.  In order to bet the LAN line you would need an expected probability greater than 75% chance of winning tonight for the bet to not be considered gambling.  There are a lot of external factors crippling the Cubs in this game but we can’t measure those.

There is an external factor in this game that affects LAN however.  There are two Clayton Kershaws;  regular season HOF Clayton Kershaw, and his doppelganger, playoff Clayton Kershaw.  Below is playoff Clayton Kershaw’s record in the playoff season.

Rank WAA IP ERA Gs Gr Name_TeamID Pos
-030- -1.91 89.0 4.45 14 4 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH  playoffs

Ouch!  89 innings pitched and he’s ranked #30 in the bottom 200 of the playoff season which covers every player since 1903.   Kershaw pitched lights out game 1 last NLCS but faltered in game 6 allowing the Cubs to advance to the World Series.  We will forever be grateful to playoff Clayton Kershaw.

For the record, below is regular season future unanimous ballot HOF Clayton Kershaw.

Year WAA Name_TeamID Pos Rank
2008 0.1 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH XXXXX
2009 5.8 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +027+
2010 5.6 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +029+
2011 9.3 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +002+
2012 7.8 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +005+
2013 11.3 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +001+
2014 9.0 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +001+
2015 10.0 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +003+
2016 8.6 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +003+
2017 8.3 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +006+
Total 75.8

Tonight we’ll see.   CHN almost could be a betting opportunity but we haven’t factored in LAN’s relief advantage which is even bigger based upon the Cubs having many relievers out of service from game 5 NLDS.   Quintana is starting on short rest.   We recommend the CHN line of 0.351 to be a discard as well.