Previewing the NL Pennant Odds
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) – Which National League team offers the best pennant odds as we draw closer to the 2014 World Series?
Hard to believe that we are just days away from the first game of the regular season. The first game will be televised Sunday Night on ESPN and will pit the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Diego Padres beginning at 8:00 PM ET.
I suppose it is just coincidental that the front runner for the NL Pennant and the World Series Championship will be on display in this prime-time event. The Dodgers are certainly loaded with pitching, hitting, and bench depth that few, if any teams, can match in MLB. Of course the Tigers are right up there on the list too and most observers believe it will be these two teams in the World Series.
Few of these prognostications come true though and a near-infinite number of events, injuries, and intangibles do occur over the course of the marathon 162-game season. So, let's take a look at some of the 'also-rans' as candidates for futures wagering.
I'm going right to the long shot with the Philadelphia Phillies just getting hammered by the public. The chart below shows the opening and current futures lines to win the NL pennant from the Stardust. The Phillies opened at 20/1 and are now nearly double at 35/1 to win the pennant. The Phillies have had a difficult Spring Training posting a league-worst 8-15 mark having won their last two games. They have been outscored by 29 runs in these 23 games and clutch hitting has been the dominant reason for the slow start.
Add in the controversy now surrounding career Phillies and former MVP Jimmy Rollins and new skipper Sandberg only makes things look bleaker. Howard couldn't hit sand if he fell off a camel. The starting lineup consists of five players, age 34 years or older, and no team in the MLB history has had that many aged starters go more than 130 games. Hamels probably won't start a game until May.
However, they still have a core of players from the 2008-2011 playoff years and although the minor league farm is depleted, they still have some very talented players to call up when the injury bug hits again. It is certainly true, that everything would have to go right for the Phillies to win the NL Pennant, but they do have Lee, Hamels, and Burnett. That trio is arguably one of the best playoff rotations, so if they could manage to just get the Wild Card berth, they just may be the team that no one wants to play. I like getting paid 35/1 to assume this long shot risk with three dominating starters.