Matthews: Dodgers Are Taking Analytics Way Too Far



The Los Angeles Dodgers lost the first two games of the World Series mainly because of poor clutch hitting but also because manager Dave Roberts took analytics way too far.

Boston started left-handed pitchers Chris Sale and David Price in the first two games and Roberts responded by starting his all-righthanded hitting lineup.

The costly flaw in that strategy was that the Dodgers’ four top sluggers this season combined for 109 home runs – Max Muncy (35), Cody Bellinger (25), Joc Pederson (25) and Yasmani Grandal (24) – all bat left-handed and they all were on the bench when the games started.

Starting Enrique Hernandez, Brian Dozier and Austin Barnes instead of Bellinger, Muncy and Grandal were especially lousy moves. You aren’t likely to beat Boston with second-stringers.

Starting Friday night, the next three games – or the next two games if the Red Sox sweep – will be in Los Angeles. That should be a big boost. The Dodgers sometimes looked confused and intimidated by Fenway Park. But using their best lineup should help even more.

PS: I’m not a big fan of catcher Grandal’s defense, but he does have power and might get lucky. Barnes is a lightweight hitter and the Dodgers need all the power they can muster to trade blows with Boston.


Let’s check out the Tale of the Tape for the New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Monday Night Football game (rank in the NFL in parentheses):

Records – Patriots 5-2...Bills 2-5

Average score – Patriots 30.6 to 25.6...Bills 11.6 to 25.0

Touchdowns – Patriots 25...Bills 7

Point differential – Patriots +35 (6th)...Bills minus-94 (32nd)

Total offense/yds per game – Patriots 381.1 (10)...Bills 234.0 (31st)

Rush offense/yds per game – Patriots 120.9 (13th)...Bills 104.6 (19th)

Pass offense/yds per game –Patriots 260.3 (14)...129.4 (32nd)

TD passes – Patriots 16 (t4th) ...Bills 3 (32nd)

Scoring – Patriots 30.6 (4th)...Bills 11.6 (32nd)

Total defense – Patriots 389.9 (25th)...Bills 320.9 (4th)

Rush defense – Patriots 114.0 (21st)...Bills 110.7 (16th)

Pass defense – Patriots 275.9 (25th)...Bills 210.1 (4th)

Scoring defense – Patriots 25.6 (20th)...Bills 25.0 (16th)

AVG time of possession – Patriots 30:09...Bills 29:29

Sacks by – Patriots 9 (31st)...Bills 26 (3rd)

Sacks allowed – Bills 26...Patriots 9

Penalties/yds penalized – Patriots NFL-fewest 33/270...Bills 54/428

Huge upsets by this season – Patriots 0...Bills 1 (27-6 at Minnesota).


Cincinnati and Tampa Bay both have potent passing attacks but the Bengals play consistently better defense.

Tampa Bay opponents have an NFKL-best 125.8 passer rating and Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown at least two INTs in his last four games.

This week’s “Best Bet”: CINCINNATI (=4) b33, Tampa Bay 24.

Sunday’s other games

(home team in CAPS)

Philadelphia 24, JACKSONVILLE (+3) 10 – The big difference in this game in London should be the quarterbacks. Carson Wentz of the Eagles is one of the NFL’s best QBs and Blake Bortles might not be the best QB in Jacksonville much longer.

CHICAGO (-7 ½) 27, New York Jets 13 – The Jets have clobbered some weak defensive teams but the Bears are a different beast. Chicago has scored at least 28 points in the last three games and the Jets allowed 71 points in the last two games.

CAROLINA (+2 ½) 21, Baltimore 17 – The Panthers have won their last eight home games and are 6-2 against the point spread (ATS) in those games.

DETROIT (-3) 28, Seattle 20 – The Lions are 5-0 ATS in their last five games and finally have a legit running threat in Kerryon Johnson to complement QB Matthew Stafford’s arm.

KANSAS CITY (-10) 38, Denver 20 – The awesome offense of the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium is a very tough assignment for any opponent. Kansas City is 7-0 ATS this season and 3-0 at home by a combined 113-51.

Washington 23, NEW YORK GIANTS (+1) 20 – The Redskins have a big advantage at quarterback with Alex Smith versus Eli Manning. The Giants are 0-3 and outscored 87-46 in home games.

PITTSBURGH (-8) 33, Cleveland 17 – The Browns are 1-2-1 in their four overtime games this season. They probably won’t have to work overtime in this spot. The Steelers haven’t lost to Cleveland since 2014.

Indianapolis 27, OAKLAND (+3) 15 – Colts quarterback Andrew Luck should have fun against a porous defense and the Raiders will miss RB Marshawn Lynch (injured) and WR Amari Cooper (traded).Indianapolis averaged 32.3 points in their last four games.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (-9) 37, Green Bay 17 – Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will be the biggest underdog in his NFL career. He needs more here. The Rams are 3-0 at home by a combined 107-54. They won their last three games, all one road, by a combined 95-61.

ARIZONA (+1) 20, San Francisco 15 – One of these lousy teams almost has to win. The Cardinals won 28-18 at San Francisco Week 5, have a new offensive coordinator – that can’t hurt – and the home field.

MINNESOTA (1) 33, New Orleans 28 – I respect QB Drew Brees’ Saints  but expecting another road win coming off a fortunate win in Baltimore is a tall order. Kirk Cousins-to-Adam Thielen is the NFL’s hottest QB-W R combination.

Monday night’s game

New England 42, BUFFALO (+15) 10 – Can these Bills pull off another epic upset? I don’t think so. Do you? The Patriots have allowed 24, 40 and 31 points in their last three games but Buffalo lacks the offense to capitalize.


Rochester’s Willie Monroe Jr., has a nice purse coming up and a victory could set up a few subsequent big paydays.

A boxing doubleheader December 22 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center will feature twin brothers WBC interim-middleweight champion Jermall Charlo and WBC junior middleweight world champion Jermell Charlo.

Monroe (23-3, 6 knockouts) will fight Jermall (27-0, 21 Kos) and Jermell (31-0, 15 Kos) will fight Tony Harrison (27-2, 21 KOs).

Willie has won his last two fights since losing a 12-round decision to then WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in September 2017.

The fights will be televised by FOX. The doubleheader event is the first portion of the recent muti-year deal that Premier Boxing Champions finalized with FOX.


Last season’s Syracuse Orange basketball team reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 despite a lack of depth and weak outside shooting.

This season’s squad will be much deeper and newcomers Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes each had three 3-point field goals and 19 points in Thursday night’s 80-49 exhibition game over the Saint Rose Golden Knights.

Other highlights included 22 points and 14 rebounds by forward Oshae Brissett and a pre-game appearance by senior point guard Frank Howard without the protective boot on his ankle.


Syracuse officials are hoping for a season-best home crowd of 40,000-plus for Saturday’s 7 p.m. (ESPN2) game at the Carrier Dome. The opponent is 22nd-ranked North Carolina State. SU (5-2 record and one win short of qualifying for a bowl game) is a 2-point underdog.

SU coach Dino Babers says he could use both of his quarterbacks – senior Eric Dungey, who deserves to start, and redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito, the hero of last week’s double-overtime victory over North Carolina.

The top home crowd this season was 37,457 versus Florida State September 15. The all-time largest football crowd at the Carrier Dome was 48,961 versus Clemson in 2013.


I don’t mean to be cruel here, but the Buffalo Bills could’ve and should’ve selected Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watsoin with the No. 10 pick in the 2017 NFL college draft. Instead, the Bills traded down and wound up picking Tre’Davious White No. 27 overall. White was a terrific pick. He’s already one of the best young cornerbacks in the league. But wouldn’t you have preferred Mahomes or Watson? We wouldn’t have to be wondering if and when rookie Josh Allen will become Buffalo’s long-awaited “franchise quarterback”.

Watson threw five TD passes for the Houston Texans in a 42-23 home romp over the Miami Dolphins Thursday night. Here are the stats for Watson and Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) in their brief NFL careers:

Watson – 15 games, 14 starts...8-6 record...294-of-465 (.632) for 3,875 yards, with 34 TD passes and 15 INTs...100.4 passer rating...80 carries for 499 yards (6.2-yard average) and 3 TDs.

Mahomes – 8 games, 8 starts...7-1 record...163-of-251 (.649) for 2,507 yards, with 22 TD passes and 6 INTs...109.4 passer rating.

Of course, in all fairness, Watson and Mahomes are playing for much better teams than Buffalo and would not have such glowing numbers for the Bills.


Bills on Monday Night Football:42 games...17-25 record...8-7 home...9-18 road...lost last six MNF games...last MNF win was October 4, 1999 (23-18 at Miami)...last MNF home win was September 26, 1994 (27-20 over Denver and John Elway in 0-3 vs. New England on MNFL (all three games in New England).

The Rochester Americans enter Friday night’s home game against the Utica Comets ranked 1st in the 31-team American Hockey League on the power play (35.3 percent; 12-for-34) and 30th in penalty killing (68.6 percent; 24-for-35).

I wonder what Houston Rockets veteran forward Carmelo Anthony is thinking about the team’s pursuit of Jimmy Butler. In four games with Houston, all coming off the bench, Anthony is averaging 11.8 points and 30.5 minutes per game.


Friday, October 26

Monta Ellis 33...Francisco Lirinao 35...Nick Collison 38...CM Punk 40...Miikka Kiprusoff 42...Jesse Armstead 48...Bert Emanuel 48...Vencie Glenn 54...Tony Casillas 55...Bob Golic 61...Chuck Foreman 68...Wayne Garland 68...Mike Hargrove 69...Toby Harrah 70. Keith Urban 51, Hillary Clinton 71 and Pat Sajak 72 are invited to the birthday party.

Saturday, October 27

Lonzo Ball 21...Rasmus Ristolainen 24...Ruben Tejada 29...Bilal Powell 30... Evan Turner 30...Andrew Bynum 31...Kyle Waldrop 33...Martin Prado 35...Calvin Pace 38...Peerless Price 42...Brad Radke 46...Mike Ricci 47...John Kasay 49...Eric Bell 55...Tom Nieto 58...Matt Cavanaugh 62.

Sunday, October 28

Daniel Palka 27...Jarrett Jack 35...Kevin Dineen 45...Benoit Hogue 52...Steve Atwater 52...Mark Carrier 53...Gary Nylund 55...Bob Melvin 57...Randy Wittman 59...Lenny Wilkens 81. Joaquin Phoenix 44, Brad Paisley 46, Julia Roberts 51, Bill Gates 63 and Caitlyn Jenner 69 are invited to the birthday party.


October 26

67 years ago (1951), Rocky Marciano defeated Joe Louis at Madison Square Garden...58 years ago (1960), the American League approved the Washington Senators move to become the Minnesota Twins and announced franchises in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., in 1961...50 years ago (1968), George Foreman won the heavyweight boxing gold medal at the Mexico City Olympics...38 years ago (1980), Grete Waitz and Alberto Salazar were winners in the 11th New York City Marathon...30 years ago (1988), Donald Trump billed Mike Tyson $2 million for four months of”:advisory service”...25 years ago (1993), the NFL announced the Careolina Panthers as a new expansion team...21 years ago (1997), the Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the World Series...18 years ago (2000), the Yankees beat the Mets 4 games to 1 to win the “Subway Series”. Derek Jeter was MVP...13 years ago (2005), the Chicago White Sox swept the Houston Astros in the World Series.

October 27

57 years ago (1961), the American Basketball League began play...32 years ago (1986), the New York Mets beat the Boston Red Sox 4 games to 3 in the 83rd World Series...27 years ago (1991), the Minnesota Twins beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 in 10 innings in Game 7 of the World Series...23 years ago (1995), the contract finalizing the move of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore was signed...14 years ago (2004), the Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years...3 years ago (2015), soccer star Abby Wambach announced her retirement.

October 28

59 years ago (1959), the Buffalo Bills entered the AFL...48 years ago (1970), the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers played their first NBA home game, losing 110-99 to San Diego...42 years ago (1976), Billy Martin of the New Tork Yankees was named American League Manager of the Year...29 years ago (1989), the Oakland A’s swept San Francisco in the “Bay Bridge” World Series.

Bob Matthews' Column

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