While the American League Championship seems to be a two-horse race, the National League, at least on paper, looks like Secretariat racing against a group of farm horses.
Odds to win the NLCS:
Los Angeles Dodgers (+185)
Just as we recommended with the Yankees, there simply isn’t enough of a value in placing this bet to actually go through with it. The Dodgers will roll through their division, that’s not in doubt. But with a shaky bullpen it’s entirely possible that their annual postseason failure could happen before getting to the World Series.
The potential reward is too small to justify the risk. I say no to a bet on the Dodgers.
Atlanta Braves (+600)
The Braves said goodbye to 2019 with a 13-1 blowout loss in the fifth and deciding game against the Cardinals at home. It was as ugly as a playoff exit gets.
They have a great nucleus of young players in Ronald Acuna, Jr., Freddie Freeman, and Mike Soroka. But the starting pitching is too thin to make a realistic postseason run. Maybe they find an arm or two via trade this season. Maybe that’s enough to carry them to the top.
Atlanta is definitely in the mix for a pennant this season. I just wish that number was higher than +600.
Washington Nationals (+850)
It takes great pitching to go to back-to-back World Series, and great pitching is exactly what the Nationals have in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin.
Juan Soto turned 21 just in time to celebrate last year’s championship with champagne, and he could very easily turn into a league MVP before his 22nd birthday. And not only does this team have ability, but they now have loads of playoff experience.
At +850, and with the potential weaknesses of the two teams ahead of them, I like a bet on Washington.
New York Mets (+1000)
It’s the mantra of the day – great pitching, great pitching, great pitching. If you want to win in the postseason and get to a World Series, you must have great pitching.
The Mets have that in their rotation without question. Their undoing last season was their bullpen, and namely closer Edwin Diaz, who went from 57 saves in 2018 to just 26 last year, while nearly tripling his ERA.
If Diaz is better, if Pete Alonso continues to rake, and Jacob deGrom continues to dominate the Cy Young award, a +1000 payoff on the Mets feels like a no-brainer bet.
Philadelphia Phillies (+1000) and St. Louis Cardinals (+1000)
The Phillies are tied with the fourth best odds to win the N.L., but I think they are just the fourth best team in their division, meaning that they are actually a better bet to miss the postseason altogether. So I’m a hard no on betting on the Phillies.
The Cardinals, however, were in the NLCS a year ago, and not much has changed on their roster. If Jack Flaherty is as good as he was last season, this is a good team to bet at +1000.