2018 MLB Playoffs Starting To Take Shape

World Series Logo at Dodger Stadium

The playoff race is in full swing in the NL West, and at this point at the beginning of September, it’s still wide open. The Dodgers are duking it out with the Colorado Rockies for first place, but Arizona is just a step behind and the San Francisco Giants though trailing eight games, are not out of it yet. It’s a tight race in both the NL West and NL Central. Let’s check out a guide for the top betting sites before placing some action on the Dodgers for the playoffs.

Chances to Make Playoffs

Both the Brewers and the Cardinals are trying to chase down the Cubs in the NL Central with good records, so second place in the West does not guarantee a wildcard spot. According to the predictive projections based on current positions and remaining schedule, at TeamRankings the Dodgers have a 70.2% chance of making the playoffs.

You might be thinking, only 70%? That doesn’t sound good … But worry not, things are looking good. The Snakes fall to 36.7% with their remaining schedule and the Rockies all the way down to 34.9 percent. The Giants have a hard road towards October. They fall to a measly 0.1% when you factor in all of the schedules.

In the NL Central, the Cubs are a virtual lock with a 99.8% chance of entering the postseason. And the Brew Crew are the most likely of all NL teams to snag the first wildcard spot at 87.2%. But the Cardinals still have plenty of opportunity at 65.0%. If the Cardinals win a couple of games that they shouldn’t, we could see a wildcard role reversal in the Central Division.

The Braves are also a virtual lock in the NL East. The Phillies only trail by 4 games at this moment but drop to just a 20% chance of making it into October and the Nationals fall to just 4.6%.

What the Oddsboards Say

The boys in Las Vegas agree with the percentages above. The Dodgers lead the way on the MLB odds boards as the favorite to win the NL West, even though they sit in second place at the time of writing this.

  • Dodgers -175
  • Diamondbacks +250
  • Rockies +600
  • Giants +2500
  • Pads +100000

Cross-referencing the implied probability in Las Vegas with the projections is a great way to verify a team’s chances or find holes that you can exploit in fantasy and betting markets. In the case of the NL West in 2018, everything is congruent, so there is a high probability that the Dodgers are going to step into the postseason.

Over in the American League

Things are a little better defined right now in the AL. The Red Sox have had an epic season and are projected to win 108 games and take the AL East. It would take a miracle for the Rays to catch the Yankees to take second place and the Blue Jays and Os are out of the picture.

Over in the AL West, the Houston Astros are still hanging on to their lead buy just a couple of games over the Athletics. The Astros have a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs and the A’s have a slightly tougher remaining schedule, so they sit at 93%. The thing in the American league is the separation of second place in the Central and third place in both the East and West. So it is almost a certainty that we’ll see:

Wildcard Game – Yankees vs. Astros or A’s

ALDS –  Red Sox vs. Yankees/Astros/A’s

ALDS – Indians vs. Astros or A’s

Basically, both the Astros and A’s will make the postseason, but are fighting over who gets the easier road with the Indians.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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22 thoughts on “2018 MLB Playoffs Starting To Take Shape

  1. Damn. If I were in Vegas I might place a few bucks on the Rockies. +600 is good value for a team that’s basically tied for the lead.

    1. When you read the betting #’s, it’s the minus numbers which are the favorites. The Dodgers are picked to win the division. But, will they win it? I wouldn’t be surprised if they fail the way they play from night to night. I wouldn’t bet on them.

  2. The last 6 games of the year will be interesting. The Dodgers playing the D-Backs and Giants on the road, and the Rockies will be playing the Phillies and Nats in Colorado. The Rockies though have that extra game in that stretch, playing the Phils 4 times. Since Philly is fighting for a playoff berth, they should be tough for the Rocks, but anything can happen at Coors. The Nats on the other hand are now just playing out the season. As for the Dodgers, the 3 at AZ will be critical. They look like they are going to need those wins, as for the Giants series. SF would like nothing better than to beat the Dodgers and keep them from winning the west.

  3. Pack will really hate todays lineup….no Kemp, no Machado…..Pederson, Verdugo, Turner, Muncy, Bellinger, Grandal, Hernandez, and Dozier with Ryu on the mound…….

  4. Bats asleep again today, 2 HR’s and nothing else. Down 7-3 in the 8th…..thanks dummy..22 games left after today. 6 at home, 16 on the road…..only plus in that…Dodgers are better on the road than at home.

    1. It does seem that the Dodgers are a better road team. But, now they have a bigger problem not having their closer be able to go to Colorado. It is like having a key player who cannot bat against lefties. It seems this team is very lopsided. They must sort the closing position out, lickety split.

      They also must sort the problem of facing LH pitchers. A good leadoff man should be able to hit both lefties and righties. None of ours do. We have a starting RF who cannot hit LHP. When I look through the splits of our players, I am a bit shocked at the difference between the stats. Plus, I don’t see the OF help with this situation. Neither Verdugo or Toles hits lefties well. Kemp is slowing down as a defender and base runner. Taylor is the strikeout king. I can understand why they have been reluctant to play Verdugo and Toles all season, although I do like Verdugo a lot. For a team that is so committed to metrics, there are huge holes in the metric analysis of our players. We need major surgery and I’m not sure that FAZ can perform the operation.

      1. For me the problems begin and end in the front office. The strategies and approaches of management come directly from the front office and trickle down onto the field. Their reliance on journeymen relievers. Their philosophies of short starts and long bullpen games. The lack of belief in hot hitters. The constant searching for matchups. They insist on using matchups on both sides of the ball and that is the primary reasoning for their decisions via the lineup creation and pitching decisions. Playing guys out of position. heavy reliance on launch angles, home runs and exit velocities over baseball fundamentals like making contact, hitting with runners in scoring position and moving runners over. The insisting on playing non-producing hitters. Acquiring injury riddled and or past their prime pitchers. Guys like Taylor, Puig, Joc, should never start another game this season. Again all of this comes mainly from the front office. Not that Roberts should be absolved of all blame. Certainly he’s the manager and in control of the lineups. However the front office must be held accountable for not replacing those guys when it was obvious they were not delivering. The front office should squarely be held accountable for having a weak offseason where they did little to nothing to improve the roster while other competing teams were adding players, plugging holes and improving their rosters. These guys have had their chance (four seasons) and have yet to deliver a championship. I see the team nowhere closer to this goal and actually appear to be farther away this year than the year before. I just hope the team at least makes the playoffs otherwise it’s going to be a huge embarrassment for the organization.

        1. I agree with you Scott. They are further away from their goal than ever before. It’s a miracle we even got a player like Manny. It’s going to be a very interesting off season to see who stays, who goes, and how they will develop their vision of achieving a WS. There doesn’t seem to be a Seager or Bellinger coming up from the farm. All of the auditions, save for a pitcher, haven’t amounted to much. Muncy is from outside of our farm. Buehler is the only starter that is home grown this year. We have not seen anyone even close to a complete product able to step in and nail down a job. My fear is that Verdugo will also be exposed as a lopsided player, unable to hit LHP, and unable to be a leadoff batter. Don’t know what to think about Toles. I’m wondering what happened to all the depth that we supposedly had. Something got terribly misread.

  5. It doesn’t matter which lineup Roberts uses, the Dodgers play inconsistently no matter who bats where and who plays. Sure, I’d like to see a good leadoff hitter which Joc and Dozier are not. I’d like to see better 6,7,8, batters but there is no possible sure thing with this team. They should try and go in a different direction, but they don’t. They are stuck in place with old habits. It’s the players that don’t produce. A manager can only optimize production, not produce it. Players like Joc, Grandal, Hernandez, Taylor, Dozier, and Puig do not get it done consistently. Isn’t it obvious by now? There are only 5 players who are truly contributing to wins for this team. Turner, Machado, Bellinger, Kemp, and Muncy, with Freese on standby. These are the players who have turned in clutch hitting and are producing for the team. The rest are journeyman trade fodder who could be traded out with no ill effect on the team. Slumpers like Grandal hurt the team immensely but the numbers don’t bear that out unless you dig deep. The almighty HR is a beautiful thing, no doubt, but you have to combine that with on-base hitting which the Dodgers sorely lack.

    1. Jeff
      Going by what you say, shouldn’t Manny and Kemp played? You say it doesn’t matter who plays or who plays where but then you say that Manny, Kemp, Bellinger, Turner, Muncy with Freeze on standby for hitting in the clutch. Kemp has been a league leader hitting with runners in scoring position all year and yet he does not play. Manny should never have been benched especially with the crappy defense the team played tonight.Joc, Kike, and Verdugo were 0 for 9. All that being said, who is accountable for the poor performance? I guess you would say all the players but is that fair when a few maybe should have played and the outcome might have been different. Who is the reason they did not play? That is who is at least partly accountable.

      1. We’ve been over this countless times. You persist with a line of thinking that puts all the blame on Roberts. Then you start cursing me out when I disagree with your total premise. You even went as far as apologizing to me for your actions. What is clear is that Roberts is not on the field playing and that the players that are on the field, have to take responsibility for production. The players who get rotated in and out are there because they are supposed to be able to produce. If Machado sits, it doesn’t mean the team should go to ground. It seems elementary to me that the players hold the responsibility for their play. Roberts doesn’t. Roberts can make adjustments and decisions that can help the team win, but if the players don’t produce, why blame him? I have never liked Roberts and the way he manages, but I doubt that all these decisions are his alone. I think he is told to do certain things through computer analysis from the FO. How much? I don’t know. I still want to see him gone, but I also want to see several players on the Dodgers gone.

        Harping on Roberts like you do is tiring and doesn’t take into account the way the game is being played. Would’ve/should’ve is all hindsight and meaningless when you don’t even know the real scenario behind the scenes and what the strategy is from game to game and who is going to play against RH and LH pitchers. Machado could’ve had a cold or a bunion. He could’ve asked for a day off. So many different possibilities but you always come back to your #1 reason for everything, Roberts. Maybe you should take time off from posting and do some self reflection.

        1. Jeff

          Toles hit lefties fine last year, but you have to remember he missed most of last year, and spent most of his time rehabbing his knee, after his knee surgery.

          Because he wasn’t able to get in a cage and work on his hitting, until a couple of weeks before spring training, this year, and remember he almost missed two months, at the beginning of this year.

          Verdugo has hit lefties much better then righties in AAA, although his numbers in the majors this year, have not been good against lefties.

          Verdugo hit lefties 389 in and his OPS was in 900s in AAA against lefties, but he only hit 303 against righties, and his OPS was 806 against righties.

          Toles hit righties 333, and his OPS was 862 against righties this year.

          Think about the time Toles missed, but he still managed to out hit Verdugo against righties this year, after he had to catch up with everyone else, after he was off, almost two months.

          Look at Toles major league numbers, you will see he was decent against lefties last year.

          1. Jeff

            I agree with your assessment of those other players you talked about.

            And most of those players have been playing, four years.

  6. We can all sit here and opine on this team all day long. And our opinions are just that, nothing more. The on field performance is on the players. They are the ones paid massive amounts of money to perform and entertain. The players on the field any given night are on the manager. He is the one who selects who plays and who does not. He makes the in game moves that can mean a win or a loss. The players in that clubhouse are squarely on the front office and management. They draft, sign and trade for who they think fits in with their plan. So far it has been 30 years since that plan has resulted in a title. The last Dodger team that won a title did it with pitching. They did not bludgeon the opposition to death. They finished with a 94-67 record. Scored 628 runs and allowed 544. Their best hitter, Kirk Gibson, hit .290 with 25 homers and 76 RBI’s. Only 2 other players on that team, John Shelby and Mike Marshall, had double digit HR totals. Marshall led the team in RBI’s with 82. Gibson won the MVP award. Their ace won 23 games. Leary added 17. They were 9th in the league in fielding and made 142 errors. They had some major injuries and managed to overcome them because they had a very good bench. The relief corps saved 49 games. The pitching staff as a whole had an ERA of 2.96. Howell led the team with 21 saves, but Pena and Orosco also saved games. A lesser team when you look at the roster, but a team that had the heart to overcome and win. FAZ could learn a lot looking at the history and not the stat sheet. Good pitching beats good hitting everyday of the week. Great pitching wins titles.

  7. While I do not put all of the blame on Roberts, he does get some. The real onus is always on the players. When they are on the field, they are paid to get the job done. We all know baseball can be a cruel mistress. One mistake can follow a player his entire life. Bill Buckner still gets hate mail. Manager decisions can be harder to pin down unless a blunder costs the team a title. My biggest complaint about Roberts is that even though the stats were right there for him, he continually put Hernandez in a spot in the batting order where the stats say he was totally inept. He put Machado in the 2 hole when he first arrived when the stats said he was far better in the 3 hole. Little things like that add up, especially when said player does not come through in a clutch situation and costs the team a game. If you are going to be using the analytics, well put the player in the best spot for him to succeed. Obviously the 4 hole is a black hole for Kike. Last year, Puig thrived in the 8 slot. This year, he is bouncing all over the order. Roberts rotating lineups and mysterious batting orders are part of the problem. No true leadoff hitter with the disappearance of Taylor has been another. Inconsistency is the biggest of them all. How can a team on the plus side of the run differential be so close to being nothing more than a .500 team? Answer, they do not win the close games. Proven time and time again this season, and unless over the next 22 games they can reverse that trend, they are not making the playoffs. In the eighty’s. Lasorda made a fateful decision to pitch to Jack Clark. It cost them a trip to the World Series. In 1962, Walter Alston chose to send Stan Williams out to pitch the 9th inning of the 3rd playoff game when he could have used Don Drysdale instead. The Giants scored 4 and won the pennant. Does Roberts have a blunder like that in his future? We will find out soon.

    1. The Dodgers have 6 home games left and 16 away; I would project only 12 wins.
      The Rockies have 14 home games with 9 away; I would project 13 wins.
      The D-Backs have 13 home games with 10 away; I would project 12 wins.
      Based on the schedules, I would project the Rockies taking the West and neither the Dodgers or D-Backs
      getting a Wild Card.

      So for the Dodgers to get to play in October, they need to win at least 15 of their remaining games .. which means they must sweep the 9 games against the Reds, Padres and Giants and win 6 of the 13 against the Rockies, Cards and D-Backs. Not impossible.

      1. Not probable either. They are a better road team than a home team. Next 10 on the road, they need to sweep the Rockies. 2 of 3 is ok, but anything less, and they are not in a good place because there will only be 19 left. Reds swept them in LA. They are dangerous even if it does not seem like it, 2 of 3 needed. If they are 4 of 6 heading into St Loo, they will be in a good spot. They need to win 3 of 4 with the Cardinals. 7 of 10 on the road trip will be fine. Because once they get home, they have 12 games left, and none against the Rockies. 6 against the Pads, 3 with AZ and SF each. The kicker is that Kenley Jansen is not going to pitch in Colorado at all. So it is closer by committee. Lets hope those games are not that close. This team is capable of ripping off a long winning streak, and they need to do something like that now. They get Gray, Freeland and Anderson in Colorado and Kershaw pitches the opener.

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