Last Updated: 2019-03-05
The National League Central is a very compelling division. The reigning champion Milwaukee Brewers are the only reigning division champ not the favorite or the second favorite to take down the crown. Oddsmakers don’t appear to be all that fazed by the poor PECOTA projection for the Chicago Cubs, who have not had a good offseason. The St. Louis Cardinals are generating some buzz with Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the lineup.
Those are the three favorites, but the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds are not pushovers. This is the only division without a well-defined bottom feeder or two. As you’ll see with the odds, the Pirates and Reds are lined in the same range as the second or third favorite in the other five divisions.
The AL East is the top-heaviest division in baseball. The AL Central, the AL West, and the NL West are the most obvious divisions in baseball. The NL East has four legitimate contenders, but a case can be made that the NL Central is the best division in baseball this year and it will be fun to see how this all unfolds.
Here are the odds for the NL Central as of March 5 from BetOnline Sportsbook:
Chicago Cubs +175
St. Louis Cardinals +225
Milwaukee Brewers +250
Cincinnati Reds +1200
Pittsburgh Pirates +1400
The White Sox are +1400, the Tigers are +3300, and the Royals are +3300. The Blue Jays are +2500 and the Orioles are +10000. The Angels and Athletics are second on the board at +700 and the Mariners are +2500 and the Rangers are +5000. The Marlins are +5000. The Padres are +800, the Giants are +2000, and the Diamondbacks are +2500.
In the NL Central, the longest odds to win the division are +1400. That is astonishing, but this is a strong division top to bottom and it is entirely possible that the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers all finish somewhere around 89 or 90 wins. There is no runaway candidate in this division.
The Cubs have negative projections, not because of some PECOTA bias, but because Willson Contreras is a bad pitch framer and just about every Cubs hurler had a lower ERA than FIP and xFIP last season, so regression is coming. There are still a lot of skeptics out there about the Brewers rotation and also some that wonder if the offense will fall back a bit when Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar regress.
The Cardinals added the biggest name in Paul Goldschmidt, but Carlos Martinez is already experiencing shoulder troubles and many wonder how the rest of the rotation will hold up. The Cardinals also have some bullpen questions and sit behind the Brewers and Pirates in that department. The Pirates have an elite bullpen and a solid rotation, but the offense is a point of contention. The Reds have a pretty good offense, but the pitching staff seems unlikely to hold up.
You would think that would create some betting value. All five teams have flaws. All five teams have strengths. A spread like this actually makes it harder to find a good candidate for a bet. The Cubs and Reds are teams that I would cross off. I’ve been high on Pittsburgh and +1400 is enough for me to entertain a bet.
To me, the best betting option here is the Brewers at +250. The Cardinals have a lot of red flags and injury risks on the pitching staff that could counteract what the offense is able to provide. The Brewers appear to have the lowest amount of injury risk and the price is more attractive than a +225 on the Cardinals. The Pirates are a team I’m much higher on than most, so +1400 is worth some beer money as well.
<< Previous PostNext Post >>