NERD Game Scores: David Paulino Afternoon Debut Event

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.


Most Highly Rated Game
Houston at Cleveland | 12:10 ET
Paulino (MLB Debut) vs. Bauer (160.1 IP, 99 xFIP-)
In addition to whatever postseason implications this game possesses for either team — and it’s not without consequence for either club — it also offers the debut of giant David Paulino for Houston. The 6-foot-7 right-hander has both (a) produced excellent statistical indicators and (b) exhibited excellent arm speed as a professional. In 90.0 innings across multiple levels this year, Paulino jas recorded strikeout and walk rates of 29.4% and 5.3%, respectively — giving Paulino the fourth-best such strikeout- and walk-rate differential (behind Jose De Leon, Luke Weaver, and a Low-A prospect) among all minor-league starters who’d recorded at least 75 innings. As for the fastball, it sits around 94 mph according to most reports.

What Paulino hasn’t done is pitch much. After easing back from a Tommy John procedure last year, he missed time this year to a combination of team suspension and elbow discomfort. Do his breaking pitches feature adequate swing and miss? Will he throw even one changeup? This game will provide hot, hot data to the end of answering those questions.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Cleveland Radio.

Two Other Brief Notes
Today’s Free Game
Today’s free game features the precise Houston and Cleveland teams cited above and can be accessed by means of this hyperlinked text.

On NERD’s Playoff Adjustment, the Cubs, and the Rangers
As the season wears on, the algorithm for game NERD scores weights team scores progressively more heavily and pitcher scores less heavily — to account for the greater influence of a team’s posteason chances on the watchability of their games. Also as the season progresses, the algorithm for those team NERD scores weights various performance factors (weighted batting, adjusted home-run rate) less heavily and playoff odds more heavily.

The idea of the postseason adjustment is to assess higher NERD scores to clubs which feature less certainty regarding the postseason. To accomplish this, the author begins with the divisional odds and wild-card odds and finds the absolute value of each number minus 0.5 (or, 50%). I then add the results together divide by two. Then I subtract the result of that figure from 0.5 and multiply the resulting number by 20. Finally, I normalize all the scores to create a league average of 5.0.

Here’s all of that using the Chicago Cubs as an example. The Cubs have divisional and wild-card odds of 100.0% and 0.0%, respectively, using the site’s “coin flip” methodology (which seems to best represent how the human mind conceives of postseason odds).

  • [ |1.000 – 0.5| + |0.000 – 0.5| ] / 2 = 0.500
  • (0.5 – 0.500) * 20 = 0.0

That 0.0 number is the postseason adjustment just before it’s normalized to create a league average of 5.0. The raw league average right now is 1.61. So, to find the Cubs’ score we subtract that figure from 5.0 and add the difference to the Cubs’ raw score.


  • 0.0 + (5.0 – 1.61) = 3.4

That 3.4 represents Chicago’s current playoff adjustment — a figure to which the team’s NERD score will gravitate continuously as the season continues. It’s also the lowest possible score a club can receive at the moment, one shared mostly by very poor clubs that have been effectively (or literally) eliminated from postseason contention. Because, like those clubs, the Cubs aren’t playing games of any great consequence at the moment. Playing in a division where it appears as though 86 wins would be sufficient to claim that division, the Cubs have already recorded 89 wins. Which, that means they could lose every game for the rest of the season and still probably win the Central. A similar principle applies to the Texas Rangers, as well: they’ve already won 83 games, while second-place Houston is projected for just 86 wins.

Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete and very sortable table for all of today’s games. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from and also the rest of the internet. Note that calculations both for team and game NERD scores feature adjustment for postseason odds that increases as season progresses. Read more about those adjustments here and here.

NERD Scores for September 08, 2016
Away SP TM GM TM SP Home Time
David Paulino* HOU 10 6 6 5 6 CLE Trevor Bauer 12:10
Dan Straily CIN 3 4 4 4 6 PIT Ivan Nova 19:05
Alec Asher* PHI 4 3 3 4 2 WAS A.J. Cole 19:05
Alex Cobb* TB 7 4 5 5 3 NYA CC Sabathia 19:05
Junior Guerra MIL 5 4 6 7 6 STL Jaime Garcia 19:15
Jeff Hoffman COL 0 4 4 4 5 SD Clayton Richard 22:10
Derek Holland TEX 2 4 4 4 8 SEA Taijuan Walker 22:10
SP denotes pitcher NERD score.
TM denotes team score.
GM denotes overall game score.
Highlighted portion denotes game of the day.

* = Fewer than 10 IP, NERD at discretion of clueless author.

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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