The three National League division races have been rather predictable the past two seasons. The Washington Nationals have gone back-to-back in the NL East, the Chicago Cubs have done the same in the NL Central, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have the longest active MLB streak of consecutive division crowns at five in a row.
Oddsmakers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com don’t expect any changes in 2018.
Washington is -160 on the odds to win the NL East for a fifth time since 2012. The Nationals have arguably the best 1-2 starting pitching punch in the majors in Max Scherzer, who has won the NL Cy Young the past two years, and Stephen Strasburg. However, this could be the last season of the Nationals’ dominance because superstar outfielder Bryce Harper will be a free agent next winter.
The New York Mets are +275 in the division. They have a potentially loaded rotation, led by Noah Syndergaard, but that group was ravaged by injuries in 2017. Looking for a potential surprise team in the NL? Consider the Atlanta Braves (+1000), who have the top farm system in the majors, led by No. 1 overall prospect Ronald Acuna.
In the NL Central, the Cubs are -130 for a three-peat. Chicago also has reached the NLCS the past three years (once as a wild card), losing in 2015 and 2017 and of course ending the longest World Series championship drought in MLB history in 2016. The Cubs overhauled their bullpen this offseason and added two new starting pitchers in free agency in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood. Their only potential question mark looks to be at closer.
The St. Louis Cardinals (+300) and Milwaukee Brewers (+400) both could give the Cubs a run for their money. Few remember the Brewers had a 5.5-game lead in the division at the 2017 All-Star break. They landed two excellent outfielders this offseason in Christian Yelich (via trade) and Lorenzo Cain (free agency).
On the NL West odds the Dodgers (-150) were very quiet this offseason because they wanted to get their payroll under the luxury tax line, and they have succeeded, after leading the majors by far with a payroll of more than $265 million in 2017. Los Angeles lost Darvish in free agency but not much else and has two of the brightest young hitting stars in MLB in Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager. They are the past two NL Rookies of the Year.
The San Francisco Giants tied for the worst record in the majors last year but are only +500 in the NL West at online sports betting sites after a busy offseason that included trades for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen.
For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.