The Los Angeles Dodgers lived up to all of the hype throughout the first half of the MLB season. The preseason favourites are the only team to reach the 60-win mark (62) and have a huge lead in the National League.
According to the betting odds, the Atlanta Braves are the only other team that’s supposed to give them a run for their money. But do the Braves represent good bet at the sportsbooks? Or is there value with one of the other longshots?
The Dodgers glided to 62 wins thanks in large part to the performances of Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson and Justin Turner. Bellinger, who has delivered a .334 average and 31 home runs, is in the conversation for NL MVP. Meanwhile, Hyun-Jin Ryu has stolen the show as a legitimate CY Young contender with a 1.78 ERA through 116.0 innings pitched. The scariest part about LA is that we still haven’t seen the best that Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda have to offer. If those two can lock in over the second half, the Dodgers will be a lock to win the NL pennant at +110 odds.
Meanwhile, as it stands right now, the Atlanta Braves are the only team with a legitimate shot to catch LA according to the current pennant odds. Atlanta, which is 4.5 games back of the Dodgers for the NL’s best record, is currently listed at +300 odds to win the pennant. Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Dansby Swanson and Josh Donaldson absolutely mashed throughout the first half of the season. Can they keep it going the rest of the way? Mike Soroka has been lights out on the mound.
These are the only two teams currently inside of 8/1 as every other team has odds longer than that.
There are a handful of teams a fair distance away from LA in the NL standings with the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers all more than 10 games back of the Dodgers for the league’s best record. Of that group of teams, the Cubs might have the best chance to actually pull it off as a sleeper pick to win the NL at +800 odds.
Chicago has received some quality hitting from players like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. However, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish have ERA’s north of 4.00 and have combined for just nine wins. If the Cubs are going to close the gap atop the NL, it will need to begin with their pitching staff.
One team that could be a dark horse are the Nationals. Since starting 19-31, they have the best record in baseball. Max Scherzer is a clear-cut Cy Young candidate while the rest of the starting rotation is scary too. Their bullpen is a major weakness but nobody will want to see a lineup of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin in a playoff series. The Nats could be worth a flier at +1000.