MLB Baseball Futures Odds – 2018 NL Central Predictions
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NL Central Predictions & Handicapping Insight
The NL Central was the Cubs’ for the second consecutive season in 2017. Of course, Chicago failed to defend its World Series title but has reloaded by adding Yu Darvish this season.
The Brewers were the surprise team and led the division for just about the entire first half. They still finished ahead of St. Louis, in second place.
With a big division battle ahead for each team, lets break it all down.
Chicago Cubs NL Central Predictions
Cubs NL Central Division Odds: +125
Astros Win Total Odds: 94.5
Like I mentioned above, the Cubs reloaded in the starting rotation by signing Yu Darvish after his failure in the World Series last season with the Dodgers.
Darvish should more than make up for Jake Arrieta, who struggled at times last season.
Still, two years after starting pitching carried the Cubs to the World Series, it is sort of their question mark this season. Jon Lester isn’t getting any younger and John Lackey is no longer there.
Instead, Jose Quintana gets a full year on the South Side after posting a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts with the Cubs last season. Theo Epstein also signed Tyler Chatwood after a nice season in Colorado. Kyle Hendricks may end up the ace of the staff. He struggled early last season before looking like that guy down the stretch and into the playoffs.
St. Louis Cardinals NL Central Predictions
Cardinals NL Central Division Odds: +200
Angels Win Total Odds: 85.5
Considering the Cardinals are in line for nine less wins than the Cubs, according to Vegas’ future markets, it’s strange that they are such a close second in the division at +200.
But the idea here is that if something happens to the Cubs and they aren’t the strong contender everyone still considers them to be, the Cardinals are next in line to take the crown.
St. Louis added Marcel Ozuna in free agency. He will man left field with Dexter Fowler in right and last season’s breakout star Tommy Pham in center.
Paul DeJong also broke onto the scene last season with 25 homers in 108 games at shortstop.
And, as always, St. Louis has young pitchers ready to make an impact in 2018. Luke Weaver is projected to join a starting rotation led by Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright.
And there’s always more where he came from.
Milwaukee Brewers NL Central Predictions
Brewers NL West Division Odds: +250
Mariners Win Total Odds: 84.5
The Brewers are the third favorite in the Central and there’s a lot to like about what they did in the offseason.
Milwaukee added two outfielders to go along with Ryan Braun in right field. Christian Yelich will play left and Lorenzo Cain center.
The front office clearly does not think Keon Broxton is ready to start another year in center field. Broxton showed some spunk hitting 20 homers last season but he also struck out 175 times and hit .220. Cain’s veteran presence should be good for his development.
Just about every starting pitcher took a step forward last season and they are all back this year. After starting the season as the ace in 2017, Junior Guerra will be back and healthy in 2018 and only expected to fill the fifth spot. Don’t be shocked if he bounces back nicely with less pressure on him this season.
Cincinnati Reds NL Central Predictions
Reds NL Central Division Odds: +2500
Athletics Win Total Odds: 73.5
If you are going to take a shot, I like the Reds more than the Pirates in this race. Cincinnati is expected to see a boost after just 68 wins in 2018.
Joey Votto had another MVP-caliber season in 2017 and led the team in the triple crown stats, plus OBP, hits and walks, among others.
Zack Cozart had a breakout season and was rewarded with a nice contract to play for the Angels. Jose Peraza will take over full-time at shortstop.
You know what? I’m going to take back what I said about the Reds being a better shot than the Pirates. The starting pitching hasn’t gotten any better and it was historically bad last season. It will get better if Brandon Finnegan can stay healthy, though.
Pittsburgh Pirates NL Central Predictions
Pirates AL West Division Odds: +1400
Rangers Win Total Odds: 73
Pittsburgh unloaded the face of its franchise in Andrew McCutchen over the winter. It also traded away Gerrit Cole to the Yankees.
As a result, fans and even players have been all over ownership for not prioritizing winning over the bottom line. Of course, this is nothing new if you’re a Pirates fan.
Josh Bell enjoyed a breakout season in 2017, hitting 26 home runs at first base.
Joe Musgrove is the biggest addition to the pitching staff. He will replace Cole, not at the top of the rotation but somewhere in the middle. Ivan Nova slides up to become the staff ace.
What do you think of our 2018 NL Central predictions? More MLB divisions are also previewed. Comments are welcome below.
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