NL Central Division Odds & Prediction
The Brewers won the National League Central a year ago with 96 wins, one ahead of the Cubs, who were bounced early from the playoffs. Will one of those clubs win the division in 2019 or will it perhaps be the retooled Cardinals?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book BetNow.eu, the Cubs have the best odds to win the NL Central in 2019 at 19/10. Chicago finished with 95 wins a year ago but one shy of the Brewers, who claimed the division title in a tiebreaker game on the final day of the regular season. The Cubs fell to the Rockies the following day at Wrigley Field in the National League Wild Card game.
The Cubs had a quiet offseason but did add utility infielder Daniel Descalso as well as relievers Brad Brach and Xavier Cedeno (minor league contract). The team lost Daniel Murphy (Rockies), Justin Wilson (Mets) and Jesse Chavez (Rangers) in free agency.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have the next-best odds to win the division at 2/1. Before the Padres signed Manny Machado on Tuesday, St. Louis made the biggest splash this offseason by acquiring Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks for three prospects (including pitcher Luke Weaver and catcher Carson Kelly). The Cardinals also signed reliever Andrew Miller, who gives them a key piece in their pen when it comes to dealing with some of the top left-handed hitters in the division.
Despite winning the division last season, the Brewers have the third-best odds to win the NL Central this year at 5/2. After acquiring Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich last offseason, as well as Mike Moustakas at the trade deadline, Milwaukee didn’t stand pat this winter. The Brewers signed former Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal to a one-year contract and recently brought back Moustakas. That said, their other trade deadline acquisition, Jonathan Schoop, left for Minnesota via free agency.
The Reds were one of the busiest teams this offseason and are 12/1 to win the National League Central. The acquired pitchers Sony Gray, Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, Zach Duke, Ian Krol and Robbie Ross this offseason, as well as position players Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. They might not be legitimate contenders this season, but there’s little doubt that the Reds improved this offseason.
The Pirates have the longest odds to win the NL Central at 15/1. They stayed relatively pat this offseason, outside of signing third baseman/outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall to a one-year contract. They also added Tyler Lyons, Francisco Liriano, Melky Cabrera and Rookie Davis, among others, to minor-league deals.
Quick-Hit NL Central Prediction
The best value on the board is the Brewers at 5/2. First and foremost, they won the division a year ago and didn’t stand pat this offseason. A Cain-Yelich-Ryan Braun-Travis Shaw-Moustakas-Grandal-Orlando Arcia lineup is one of the best in baseball and they still have a formidable pen as well. Their starting rotation will once again be a question mark, as it was last year, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Milwaukee made a move for a legitimate ace at the deadline. The Brewers were linked to Madison Bumgarner and Corey Kluber over the winter and if the Giants decide to unload Bumgarner to jumpstart their rebuild, he would be a great fit in Milwaukee.
As for the Cubs, they have a lot of names in their starting rotation but we’ll see if the production is there. Their lineup should bounce back after several players had injury-ravaged or down years, but there are too many question marks. The Cardinals also offer sneaky value at 2/1 to win the division, although I wouldn’t be surprised if their starting rotation struggles. Miles Mikloas was sensational last season, but will he keep it up? Can Jack Flathery not wear down in his first, full big-league season? Can Carlos Martinez (who is already dealing with strength issues) stay healthy? What will the team get out of Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright? I think the Brewers are a safer bet.
2019 National League Central Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers 5/2