How the Odds Shift After Last Night's Cubs Loss

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How the Odds Shift After Last Night’s Cubs Loss

Analysis and Commentary


Well here’s something expected, but rather annoying.

The Chicago Cubs’ probability of winning the NLCS and advancing to the World Series has dropped once again … this time by a lot more.

By two separate measures (FanGraphs and FiveThirtyEight), the Cubs’ odds have fallen after dropping Game 3 to two-pitch Rich and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If you recall, we last checked in on the Cubs’ overall (statistical) chances of reaching the World Series yesterday, and the picture – while not quite bright – still didn’t look too bad. But now that they’ve dug themselves a 2-1 hole (with Clayton Kershaw looming), the Cubs have quite the battle ahead of them.

At the time, FanGraphs gave the Cubs just a 47.7% chance of reaching the World Series – giving the Dodgers the edge, due to a 1-1 series record and three of the next five games coming at Dodger Stadium. Alternatively, FiveThirtyEight was still calling the series for the Cubs, with a 59% chance of winning (down from a huge 64% chance before the series started).

But despite the numerical divergence in opinion before yesterday’s game, both projection systems are now calling the series for the Dodgers. Obviously. Sad trombone.

Let’s start with FanGraphs. Before the yesterday’s game, FanGraphs projected the following probability split between the Cubs and the Dodgers.

FanGraphs Odds (Before):

  • Chicago Cubs: 47.7%
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 52.3%

But, after losing yesterday’s blowout, things have changed.

FanGraphs Odds, (After):

  • Chicago Cubs: 28.5% (-19.2%)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 71.5% (+19.2%)

Yikes. That near-20% drop might seem dramatic, but such is life in a seven-game playoff series, with just (potentially) four games remaining. But is it all that bad? For what it’s worth, FiveThirtyEight is holding onto quite a bit more hope.

Before yesterday’s game, FiveThirtyEight had the Cubs as a solid favorite in the series, but like FanGraphs, things changed a lot after the loss:

FiveThirtyEight Odds, (Before):

  • Chicago Cubs: 59%
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 41%

FiveThirtyEight Odds, (After):

  • Chicago Cubs: 40% (-19.0%)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 60% (+19.0%)

Well, the numbers might be different but each of FiveThirtyEight and FanGraphs seems to agree on one thing: with last night’s loss, the Cubs chances of winning the series dropped by about 20 percentage points. Interestingly, according to FiveThirtyEight, yesterday’s loss to the Dodgers essentially (almost precisely) flipped each team’s odds. So, if you’re looking for a silver lining, by at least one measure, the Dodgers were in the same position the Cubs were just one day ago. One win can change everything!

But I won’t pretend the picture is rosy.

The best I can offer you is that the Cubs have about a 1 in 3 chance of reaching the World Series, which, well, is not that bad. And, if they can squeak out a win tonight, it’ll be a best of three against the Dodgers, with home field advantage going to the Cubs. Even with Kershaw on the mound for one of those starts, I don’t hate that for Chicago.

The climb is still uphill, but the battle has not been lost, and the candles are still burning, and I’ve really lost my place in this metaphor. Let’s just get that win tonight, eh?


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.