2018 National League Pennant Odds To Win
Can you believe Thursday is already opening day? If it feels like the first pitch snuck up on you, that’s because it did. March 29 marks MLB’s earliest start date ever — not that we’re complaining!
A few days ago we previewed the AL pennant picture, now here’s a breakdown of the NL. All betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline!
Los Angeles Dodgers (+275)
The redemption tour starts now for Los Angeles after a heartbreaking defeat to Houston in the Fall Classic that extended its World Series drought to 30 years.
Luckily for the Dodgers, they enter 2018 with arguably the most talented ballclub top-to-bottom. Corey Seager is one of the game’s best young hitters. Kenley Jansen is the league’s most-feared closer. And Clayton Kershaw, well, he’s the best starting pitcher of this generation (except in the playoffs sometimes).
Aside from top-shelf talent, Los Angeles is loaded with depth. They didn’t miss a beat when Adrian Gonzalez went down a year ago. A broken wrist will keep Justin Turner sidelined to begin this season, and the Dodgers should chug right along for now or whenever the injury bug inevitably bites again during the course of the year.
It’s not a stretch to say the Dodgers don’t have any weaknesses. Yu Darvish — and his awful Game 7 outing versus the Astros — is now Chicago’s problem. If we’re nitpicking, the bullpen could be better, however, newly-added lefty Scott Alexander is looking like the answer.
More than anything, this feels like Los Angeles last shot to finally win it all. For the first time in four years, the Dodgers don’t have the league’s highest payroll. Kershaw isn’t getting any younger and the 30-year-old can opt out of his contract this coming winter. The window is closing, and you can bet the organization feels it.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget there was a point last season when the Dodgers were considered one of the best MLB teams of all time (before they lost 16 of 17 games but still won an MLB-best 104 games). For the most part, that club remains intact, and should be more motivated than ever. Without a doubt, Los Angeles is the runaway safe bet here.
Chicago Cubs (+350)
The “championship hangover” got the best out of Chicago in 2017. However, the “down year” for the Cubbies still resulted in its third consecutive trip to the NLCS. With a replenished roster, the Cubs pose as the biggest thorn in the Dodgers’ side moving forward.
Not only did Chicago lure Darvish away from Los Angeles, clutch relief pitcher Brandon Morrow also followed. Game 7 disaster aside, Darvish finished last season with a 3.86 ERA. Morrow was an even bigger piece for the Dodgers as the bullpen ace before Jansen. Both bolster the Cubbies pitching staff, which proved to be its downfall during its repeat bid.
It may not have felt like it, but the 2017 Chicago lineup was actually more prolific than its championship counterpart based on runs scored and home runs hit. What’s most scary is no projected starting hitter is over the age of 28 — meaning improvement is expected for years to come.
Here’s a stat to keep in mind: the Cubs played .662 ball following the All-Star break last season. At a full season’s pace, that’s 108 wins. Without the pressures of back-to-back titles and an improved roster, there’s no reason to believe Chicago can’t hit that win total.
Come October, no one will be surprised when the Cubs and Dodgers play in the NLCS for a third straight year. It’s a toss-up on who’ll win the grudge match, but it’s worth putting your money on Chicago.
Washington Nationals (+350)
We’ll go ahead and admit it, the NL is two-horse race between the Dodgers and Cubs. However, if you want a darkhorse, then the Nationals are your best option.
Barring a miracle, this will be Bryce Harper’s last go for Washington. The 25-year-old is on the cusp of a $300 million contract — and that’s being conservative — when he hits free agency at year’s end. That check is too high for a middling franchise like the Nats to pay.
But for all we know, an even more monstrous season is in store for the free-agent-to-be, a performance that could drive up his megadeal more. Even after winning the NL East by 20 games, Washington wouldn’t mind being the beneficiary of that.
Here’s why we’re staying away from the Nationals, though. Dating back to 1969, when the franchise was in Montreal, it’s won one playoff series. One! Since curses are such a huge part of baseball lore, isn’t time to start considering this drought a hex?
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