MLB Futures: Padres, Cardinals Have Longshot World Series Value
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images. Pictured: Nolan Gorman (Cardinals)
The MLB season is almost at its halfway point with the All-Star Break just a few weeks away. At this point, several contenders already emerged, particularly in the major markets.
At +450, The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the year as the betting favorites to futures/world-series-odds”>World Series. After a 46-28 start to the year, the Dodgers are holding steady at that price on FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM.
The New York Yankees were not even favored to win the AL East entering the year. However, after one of the best first half starts in MLB history with a 56-20 record, the Bronx Bombers have surpassed the Dodgers as the betting favorites at +425 on BetMGM.
On the other side of town, the Mets entered the year at +1500 to win the World Series. Entering play Thursday with the second-best record in the National League at 47-29, the Mets are now +700 at DraftKings.
San Diego Padres (+1500 DraftKings)
The Padres have constructed their team around their superstar duo on the left side of their infield. However, shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has not played this season while recovering from offseason wrist surgery. Third baseman Manny Machado has up the slack and carried the team on his back thus far. He is hitting .328 with 12 homers and 46 RBI, slashing .328/.400/.545 and accumulating 4 WAR.
Machado went down with an injury last Sunday in Colorado. He has missed the last nine games, but his injury is not expected to be a long-term concern and he may be back this week.
Despite the injuries to their stars, the Padres have the third-best record in the National League at 46-31 and are just 1.5 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West. The Padres’ pitching staff has picked up the slack, ranking fifth in team ERA (3.48), fourth in opposing batting average and third in opposing OPS. Joe Musgrove has anchored the pitching staff this season. The free agent-to-be is 8-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 2.1 WAR.
Yu Darvish, Sean Maenea, MacKenzie Gore and Mike Clevinger make up the rest of the Padres strong rotation. Gore struggled in consecutive starts against the Rockies, causing his ERA to swell to 3.34. However, he has already shown the flashes that made him the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball and a potential ace in the future. Clevinger is 5-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last five starts.
A bullpen that began the season with question marks has emerged into a strength, ranking 11th in the majors in bullpen ERA. Closer Taylor Rogers, acquired in a trade with the Twins, has been steady with a 2.84 ERA and 22 saves in 26 opportunities.
At the plate, infielder Jake Cronenworth has picked it up after a slow start to the year. He is hitting .308 with four home runs, 24 RBI and a .953 OPS in the month of June. San Diego is tied for eighth in the majors in runs scored this season.
I think the Padres could use another bat to lengthen out the lineup, however no one acquired via trade (for any team) will make the impact that Tatis Jr. will when he returns. The Padres superstar has progressed to taking ground balls in his rehab and could begin swinging the bat at full speed in two weeks. He is currently on track to return in late July or early August.
Given how well San Diego has performed without Tatis Jr. and Machado recently combined with its strong pitching staff, it should be even more dangerous at full strength. At +1500, I like the value on the Padres as a team that can go on a run in October and take home the World Series.
St. Louis Cardinals (+3500 DraftKings)
The Cardinals brought back franchise icon Albert Pujols and reunited him with longtime teammates Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. It would be a great story if the Cardinals won the World Series in what may be the final season for all three. The trio won two World Series titles together in 2006 and 2011.
Wainwright remains an important piece to the Cardinals rotation with a 3.07 ERA and Molina’s leadership behind the plate will be valuable when he gets back from injury. However, this time a Cardinals World Series title will likely be led by others.
First basemen Paul Goldschmidt has been locked in all season, slashing .342/.424/.630 with 19 homers and 65 RBI. After opening the season +2500 to win NL MVP, Goldschmidt is now the favorite at +115. Third baseman Nolan Arenado has 14 homers, 49 RBI and a .835 OPS. Shortstop/second baseman Tommy Edman is the tablesetter with seven homers, 32 RBI and 19 stolen bases, Goldschmidt, Arenado, and Edman have all produced at least 3.4 WAR thus far.
Second baseman Nolan Gorman has flashed the power that made him a top prospect with six home runs in 35 games. Outfielders Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez add length to the lineup. Outfielders Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neil have gotten off to slow starts (and battled injuries in O’Neil’s case), but have the power to make an impact in October. Overall, the Cardinals are third in the majors in runs scored.
The Cardinals’ pitching staff may not wow you with the same star power as its lineup, but they have been solid as well. Miles Mikolas has a 2.57 ERA to go along with the aforementioned Wainwright. Young Andre Pallante has a 2.10 ERA while working as a starter and reliever. The Cardinals are 11th in team ERA. Another X-factor is the potential return of Jack Flaherty.
Flaherty was out until mid-June with right shoulder inflammation and he may have came back too soon as he did not look like himself. In three starts, Flaherty posted a 5.63 ERA, 2.12 WHIP and nine walks to just six strikeouts in eight innings. He is now back on the IL with a right shoulder strain.
However, when he is right, he is one of the best starters in the game. Last year, he was 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings. Flaherty also has a 3.52 ERA in four postseason starts, including a dominant performance in Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS to knock out Atlanta.
The Cardinals enter play today 1.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. I like the Cardinals to win the division in the second half as I think they are a more complete team. Winning the division will also help the Cardinals host a NLDS series. The Cardinals are fourth in the MLB run differential at +70. This is not a team that should be 35/1 to win the World Series.