MLB Divisional Betting: Three-Way Race in NL Central
Only two games separate the top three teams in the race to determine the NL Central division winner and a trip to the playoffs. The Milwaukee Brewers (65-57) hold a two-game lead over the surging Chicago Cubs and slumping Cincinnati Reds with less than a quarter of the regular season remaining.
According to DraftKings’ MLB futures board, the Brewers are the betting favorite to win the NL Central at -155 odds. The Cubs are second on the board at +180 odds, followed by the Reds at +500.
A trip to the National League wild-card round is also at stake in such a close race. The NL Central winner automatically advances to the playoffs, but whoever finishes in second place could bubble the NL wild card.
If the season ended today, the Philadelphia Phillies (66-55), San Francisco Giants (64-57), and Cubs (62-58) would qualify for the NL wild card. The Miami Marlins (63-59), Reds (63-59), and Arizona Diamondbacks (62-60) are currently on the postseason bubble, yet separated by only one game.
There’s also a plausible scenario in which three teams from the NL Central could advance to the playoffs with two teams occupying wild-card berths.
The St. Louis Cardinals won the NL Central last season with 93 wins, but they currently occupy last place in the division with a 54-68 record.
Brewers Aim for Third Division Title Since 2018
The Brewers saw their division lead narrow to two games after they were swept by the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers. They finish a nine-game road trip this weekend when they visit the Dallas suburbs to battle Max Scherzer and the Texas Rangers, who are currently in first place in the AL West.
The Brewers have lost 15 games since the All-Star break. Eight of those losses were against first-place teams like the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.
The Brewers host a five-game homestand next week before they head down to Chicago to play a three-game series against the Cubs to end the month of August.
The Brewers don’t have any starting pitchers with double-digit victories, but Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralt each have nine wins.
Christian Yelich has been healthy this season and he’s having his best statistical season since 2019. He smashed 16 home runs with 66 RBI while slashing at .286/.372/.456.
The Brewers have a 59.7% chance to win the NL Central according to a projection by FanGraphs. They have a 73.6% chance to advance to the playoffs with just a 3.1% chance to win the World Series.
The Brewers are -300 odds to advance to the playoffs, according to a popular prop bet by DraftKings. They are +250 odds to miss the playoffs.
On the MLB futures board, the Brewers are 10th overall to win the 2023 World Series at +2800 odds. The Brewers are +1200 odds to win their franchise’s first NL pennant.
Cubs Making a Run
The Cubs woke up at the right time. They began the second half of the season six games under .500, but went 20-10 since mid-July.
In his first season with the Cubs, outfielder Cody Bellinger is slashing .327/.379/.554 and stole a career-best 17 bases. He’s close to passing last season’s HR/RBI totals, and currently has 18 home runs and 59 RBI.
Left-handed pitcher Justin Steele emerged as the team’s ace after starting the season 6-0. He currently has a 13-3 record with a 2.79 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. The Cubs won his last five starts, and they’re 10-1 in his last 11 starts.
The Cubs have a 29.6% chance to clinch the NL Central according to FanGraphs. They have a 53% chance to qualify for the playoffs, with only a 1.2% chance to win the World Series.
The Cubs are -130 odds to make the playoffs, but +110 odds to miss the postseason according to DraftKings.
The last time that the Cubs won the NL pennant was in 2016 when they went on to win the World Series and end a 108-year championship drought. The Cubs are +2000 odds to win the NL pennant, and +5000 odds to win the World Series.
The Cubs play six more games against the Brewers, including a potential decisive three-game road series in Milwaukee to end the season. They also face the Reds in a four-game road series over Labor Day weekend.
Due to rainouts and rescheduled games, the Cubs have 42 games remaining on their schedule versus 40 each for the Reds and Brewers.
Reds Seek First NL Central Title Since 2012
The Reds were the surprise team in the National League in the first half of the season when they seized first place in the Central Division thanks to a 12-game win streak in June.
Rookie left-handed pitcher Andrew Abbott has an auspicious MLB debut and didn’t give up an earned run until his fourth big-league start. The Reds promoted Abbott from Triple-A in June. They were 6-0 in his first six starts, and the rookie went 4-0 with two no-decisions. In 14 starts, Abbott is 8-3 with a 2.99 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
August hasn’t been kind to the Reds, who lost 10 out of their last 14 games. The Reds embark on a 10-game road next week, but they’re one of the rare teams that play better on the road (33-27) than at home (30-32).
The Reds don’t have any more games on the schedule against the Brewers, and play only four more games against the Cubs.
According to the latest postseason projection by FanGraphs, the Reds have a 10.7% chance to win the NL Central. They have a 22.7% chance to secure a trip to the postseason, with a paltry 0.5% chance to win the World Series.
The Reds are +160 odds to make the playoffs, according to a prop bet by DraftKings. They’re a favorite at -190 odds to miss the postseason.
It’s been 33 years since the Reds won the NL pennant. The 1990 squad also won the World Series that year, which marked their last championship since the Big Red Machine era in the mid-1970s. The Reds are +1600 odds to win the NL pennant, and +7000 odds to win the World Series.
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