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MLB Futures Betting: Searching for National League Pennant Value

Credit:

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Marcell Ozuna (23), center fielder Dexter Fowler (25) and right fielder Yairo Munoz (34).

  • We are just about a month into the 2019 MLB season, which means bettors have more data to work with.
  • Eli Hershkovich analyzes the National League futures market and offers a team that may have some sleeper value.

This time around, I sadly won’t be digging into line value for college basketball cards. But there’s still MLB betting to hold me over until next season.

We’re just under a month into the baseball campaign, and there are some National League teams with futures value. Given the top-heavy American League, including a Yankees’ lineup producing the 10th-most runs per game despite a myriad of injuries, it’s more cost-beneficial to gun for NL pennant odds — rather than World Series odds.

So which clubs am I targeting? Let’s dig into the pretenders and contenders.


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*Odds via Caesars Palace

Milwaukee Brewers (+450)

The Brewers (13-13 outright) opened the season at +900, so there’s no value in betting on Craig Counsell’s crew despite losing its past four games. Right fielder Christian Yelich’s home/road splits don’t concern me as much as their home run-reliant attack as a whole, snapping a streak of 23 consecutive runs via the long ball with a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s loss to the Cardinals.

Milwaukee also owns the sixth-highest team ERA (5.34), and its FIP (fielding independent pitching) isn’t any more appealing (5.11).

Adding starter Gio Gonzalez back into the rotation, along a with a now-healthy reliever Jeremy Jeffress, doesn’t exactly instill a boatload of confidence, either.

St. Louis Cardinals (+700)

The Cardinals (15-9 outright) have notched five consecutive victories — the second-longest active win streak in the majors. Their odds sit exactly where they opened the season. But beyond the Los Angeles Dodgers — the favorite to win the NL pennant (+300) — I have the most confidence investing in St. Louis.

For one, Mike Shildt’s crew boasts one of the most explosive lineups around with Matt Carptenter, Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna batting one through four. The latter three batters have each tallied at least a 1.022 OPS, too.

It’s also manufactured the fourth-lowest bullpen ERA (3.38) amid reliever Andrew Miller’s struggles (2.04 WHIP), and starter Michael Wacha (knee) is on the verge of returning to an improving rotation.

Washington Nationals (+800)

Even after losing now-Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, the Nationals (11-12 outright) have struggled to handle high expectations out of the gate. Still, starters Max Scherzer (4.45 ERA) and Stephen Strasburg (4.11 ERA) should regress positively soon to aid Patrick Corbin’s efforts (2.48 ERA).

Their offense is tied with the Braves for the eighth-most RPG (5.45) — led third baseman Anthony Rendon (third-highest wOBA). With the same odds as before the season, though, there’s not enough value to invest at the moment.

 

Chicago Cubs (+900)

The Cubs (11-10 outright) are an intriguing option among the well-known contenders because their value has risen slightly from the beginning of the campaign (+800). They’ve also won nine of their past 10 games while generating a combined 2.30 ERA over that span. They’re adding veteran southpaw Jon Lester (hamstring) back into the rotation, too.

Chicago’s rotation stacks up better than the Cardinals’ bunch for now, but I’m more in favor of betting on St. Louis’ threatening attack, especially with the unknown of whether or not Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant will rediscover his power pre-shoulder injury. Joe Maddon’s bullpen is in major flux with reliever Brandon Morrow’s (elbow) rehab at a stalemate, too.

Arizona Diamondbacks (+2800)

The Padres (14-11 outright) are the trendy favorites to make a push in the NL after signing infielder Manny Machado and calling up Fernando Tatis Jr, but I’m more bullish on the D-backs (14-11 outright).

Arizona opened with 25-1 odds, and its offense has produced the 11th-most RPG (5.21) despite trading away the aforementioned Goldschmidt in the offseason. Its offensive efficiency will likely see a slight decline, but a unit with outfielders Adam Jones, David Peralta and up-and-coming first baseman Christian Walker should continue to pose a consistent threat nonetheless.

Investing a half-unit or so in the D-backs — with the expectation that starters Zach Greinke (4.60 ERA), Robbie Ray (3.95 ERA) and Luke Weaver (3.33 ERA) to keep progressing positively and veteran closer Greg Holland continues to be in good form — is worth the value.

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