The National League will look a touch different in 2020 than it has in the past. One of the rule changes for the shortened season is that we’ll see the designated hitter in the NL as well. But how does all this affect NJ sports betting?
Setting that aside, the odds show that the National League is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ to lose. Are they the best bet, though? Today, we’re taking a look at more MLB division odds, so let’s run through the NL to see where there’s some value.
National League East
The Favorite: Atlanta Braves
MLB Division Odds: +200 at DraftKings Sportsbook
The Braves have won the National League East two years in a row and are favored to do so again in 2020. Ronald Acuna Jr. is on the fast track to being an NL MVP-caliber type of player and there is plenty around him. Guys like Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson are excellent.
They lost Josh Donaldson to free agency but brought in Marcell Ozuna. As far as pitching goes, the Braves seem to be rich in that department with Rookie of the Year runner-up Mike Soroka with Max Fried and Sean Newcomb behind him.
This team should win the East but in a shortened season, anything can happen and I think they might experience a bumpy ride in 2020.
The Pick: Philadelphia Phillies
Odds: +320 at DraftKings Sportsbook
I actually like the Phillies to make some noise this year. They fell way short of expectations last year but should be in line for a much better campaign in 2020.
For starters, they’re flying in under the radar. Last offseason, they had the spotlight on them after the spending spree. The hope here is that Joe Girardi has a good impact on this team as the manager spot felt like a real weakness before.
The Phillies need Bryce Harper to be MVP-caliber in 2020. He was very good last season, but for the money they are paying him, he has to revert back to being one of the top players in the NL. I think that can happen.
He’ll have more help this year as the addition of Didi Gregorious to the lineup should help. I also like the additions in the bullpen and starter Zack Wheeler.
This is a big year for the Phillies and I actually think a shortened campaign can help them compete – as long as they get off to a good start like they did last year. They were 33-22 before the wheels fell off.
National League Central
The Favorite: Chicago Cubs
MLB Division Odds: +230 at FanDuel Sportsbook
The Central figures to be one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball. There are four teams with odds between +230 to +350, so the oddsmakers clearly see several teams as having a serious opportunity here.
The Cubs are a mixed bag, in my opinion. They have some nice pieces in the batting lineup like Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Wilson Contreras. They all had WAR’s of 3.1 or higher last season.
However, I’m not sure about the depth beyond them. The pitching staff looks like more of the same as there are bright spots – with guys like Kyle Hendricks – and then some question markets with Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish.
The same goes the bullpen where Craig Kimbrel had an ugly 1.60 WHIP last season. He’s a former All-Star and could improve but if not, this team will have a big hole at the closer spot. The pitching should be better than what they were but if they are, in fact, in the twilight and don’t improve, I’m not sure this team is playoff-worthy.
The Pick: St. Louis Cardinals
Odds: +240 at FanDuel Sportsbook
The Cardinals were much of anything last season at the midway point. They were 44-45 on July 12th and 58-55 on August 7th, but really flipped the switch down the stretch.
From that point in August, they ended up winning 33 of their final 49 games and claiming the National League Central title. They did get swept out of the playoffs by the Washington Nationals but it feels like this is a team that really grew down the stretch.
Taking a look at the Cardinals roster, not a lot has changed. This was mostly a team that came together late last year and should be on more solid ground in 2020. The staff has Jack Flaherty, who is an ace, and reasonable depth behind him.
In the lineup, they’re nothing special but they do have Paul Goldschmidt and some decent depth. They’re not spectacular but they’re steady. That seems like a better option to me than the Cubs or Cincinnati Reds.
National League West
The Favorite: Los Angeles Dodgers
MLB Division Odds: -500 at Fox Bet Sportsbook
The Dodgers are a heavy favorite to win the National League West. That’s not a huge surprise when you consider that they’ve won the division seven years in a row. Over the last six, they’ve finished with no less than 91 wins. They’re fresh off a 106-win season where they finished a whopping 50 games over .500.
The Dodgers bolstered their roster in the offseason as they acquired 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts. He led the AL in runs scored last season and now joins a team that was fifth in runs scored and fourth in OPS. With all of the other studs on the roster, it’s hard seeing anything but a Dodgers win in terms of this division title.
The Pick: LA Dodgers
Although I won’t be laying -500 here because this could be a very unpredictable year, the main reason why the Dodgers are the pick is two-fold: they’re that good and nobody else in the division is anywhere near them.
Never mind being near them, is there another team that will top the .500 mark? Taking a look at the other regular-season win totals, the Arizona Diamondbacks are at 31.5, San Diego Padres are 30.5, the Colorado Rockies are at 27.5 and the San Francisco Giants are 25.5.
If I had to take a flier on someone else, I’d sprinkle on the Padres or Diamondbacks. The Padres have the makings of a team that should be a contender in a year or two. I’m not sure they put it all together this year but in a shortened season, if I had to pick one non-Dodgers team to win this division, it would be them.