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NL Central outright odds, season predictions & best bets

NL Central MLB preview

Over the weekend, the MLB owners and the MLB Players Association agreed to a couple of new things that we will see in this upcoming baseball season. The two parties agreed to ban the shift and implement and enforce a pitch clock. They also agreed to bigger bases come 2023. There are certainly mixed opinions about whether or not the ban on the shift will actually increase offense like the MLB owners want to do, but the pitch clock will very likely speed up the game.

With all that being said, we should still see some baseball this season at some point. Now it’s time to take a look at the National League Central, which looks to be a three-horse race between the Cardinals, Brewers, and Reds.

NL Central outright odds

  • Milwaukee Brewers -125
  • St Louis Cardinals +210
  • Cincinnati Reds +700
  • Chicago Cubs +1200
  • Pittsburgh Pirates +5000

All odds provided by Bovada

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers have built a nice team up in Milwaukee to go along with a couple of solid Packers and Bucks teams. Milwaukee is suddenly becoming a bigger market with the more and more winning they do and their baseball team is a big part of that. A season ago, the Brewers took the NL Central crown with a 95-67 record highlighted by their stellar three-headed monster pitching staff with reigning Cy Young Award winner, Corbin Burns, Freddie Peralta, and Brandon Woodruff.

The trio at the top of the Brewers rotation has been dubbed one of the best of all time and it certainly lived up to it but for as good as their rotation was their offense struggled mightily. The offense was built around former MVP Christian Yelich who has significantly dropped off since his MVP season. Yelich’s struggles have made it very difficult for the Brewers to manufacture runs which have ultimately hurt them in the postseason.

The Brewers should be favorites here, but from a betting perspective might not be worth the risk. Their phenomenal pitching staff would need a repeat performance in order for them to win the NL central and that’s a tough ask. While the talent is there to repeat last year’s performance to wager on it wouldn’t be smart especially at minus odds.

St Louis Cardinals

After a 90-72 record a season ago the Cardinals decided to part ways with manager Mike Shildt. Shildt took over for Mike Matheny. In three and a half seasons, Shildt led the Cardinals to a 252-199 record including three straight postseason appearances. The departure of Shildt in favor of Oliver Marmol has created a big question mark. Marmol is the youngest manager in the MLB at only 35 years of age.

Luckily, to Marmol’s advantage, he gets to run out a deep lineup with the likes of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldshmidt. Marmol also has one of the league’s smartest players in Yadier Molina who can act as an on-field coach for the Cardinals. Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Steven Matz, and Miles Mikolas should be a pretty good combination. The Cardinals are certainly a proven franchise and should be given the benefit of the doubt here. At +210, the Cardinals are our pick to win the NL Central.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are the true wildcard of the NL Central. They have some serious talent but haven’t managed to put it all together just yet.

Any lineup with Joey Votto, Jesse Winker, Mike Moustakas, and reigning rookie of the year Jonathan India should score some runs. The issue is the loss of Nicholas Castellanos, Castellanos was the emotional leader of the Reds of the past few seasons. Castellanos’ big personality and swagger brought an attitude to the Reds that was missing years prior. His thumping bat in the middle of the Reds lineup will surely be missed.

The Reds season could go really well or really poorly, we could see them being big sellers at the trade deadline or big buyers, it truly is just a question of how the first half of the season goes. It seems like a 50/50 shot that the Reds could contend this year, at +700 it might be worth a shot but it’s certainly not likely.

Chicago Cubs

The 2016 champion Cubs were finally dismantled at last year’s trade deadline. Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant were all moved as the Cubs endured a massive losing streak that caused them to be big sellers.

It’s rumored that the Cubs could be back in on Rizzo who would provide a big bat and veteran leadership that the youth of the Cubs could use. With all that being said, David Ross has become a fine manager and it seems like the Cubs players seem to rally around him even in difficult times. If they add Rizzo back to the mix, it might not be that bad of a season in Chicago as one might think.

Nick Madrigal, Wilson Contreras, and Ian Happ all have nice upside. The addition of Marcus Stroman in free agency to go along with Wade Miley and Kyle Hendricks in the rotation should make them a decent rotation. The Cubs will certainly be no world beaters this season, but they could surprise some people. Even at +1200 odds, we wouldn’t recommend betting on the Cubs to win the NL Central crown, but it might not be that long till they’re legitimate contenders again.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates don’t look to be in a good place this season. There are hardly any household names that will be taking the field on opening day for the Pirates. Not only is there zero chance that they make a run at the NL Central, but they might also be the worst team in the entire league. It’s not all bad though, this season should be solely about seeing what they have in the farm. The Pirates currently have the second-best farm system in all of the MLB and should they trade away Bryan Reynolds this season, it might bump them up to first.

Reinforcements should be on the way soon for the Pirates, but not soon enough. It might be a long year in Pittsburgh.


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