A Detailed Look At The MLB Futures Odds For The National League

Matthew Jordan

Friday, April 22, 2016 12:37 PM GMT

It might be too early to make an absolute declaration, but here's a detailed look at the MLB odds to win the National League pennant and each division as the NL has much better teams than AL.

NL East
The Washington Nationals were the spring favorites to win the NL East and the pennant last year after adding Max Scherzer to an already loaded pitching staff. And despite a very good season from Scherzer and an NL MVP campaign from Bryce Harper, the Nationals underachieved in a big way and missed the playoffs. That cost Manager Matt Williams his  job and the team hired Dusty Baker as its second choice after contract negotiations broke down with Bud Black. The Nats may have lucked out there because Baker has always been a great regular-season manager and has Washington playing to the level that was expected in 2014.

The Nationals are 10-3 entering Wednesday and have the No. 1 pitching staff in the majors behind Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, who has been one of the NL's most dominant starters thus far. Harper, meanwhile, is hitting even better than he did to start his historic 2015 season. Harper showed up in spring camp in better shape and on improving his plate discipline. Harper already has two grand slams and is second in the majors with seven homers and first with 20 RBIs and an OPS of 1.295, which is ridiculous. Washington is now -230 on MLB odds for the division and +350 for the pennant.

The Mets were the spring favorites to repeat as NL East champions. They started 2-5 but have righted the course since. Matt Harvey has struggled and Jacob deGrom was injured (he will be back this weekend), but Noah Syndergaard has been unhittable. Do the Mets have enough offense, however? They did hit six homers against the Phillies on Tuesday and the bats have come alive of late. Neil Walker has been a great addition at second base with six dingers. The Mets are +155 to win the division again and +650 to repeat as pennant winners.

Current MLB Division Pick: Nationals.

 

NL Central
The Chicago Cubs opened as World Series betting favorites and have done nothing to change that with one of the best starts in franchise history. The pitching staff ranks No. 2 in the majors in ERA, and first in WHIP and opponents' batting average. Reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta has picked right up where he left off. Jason Hammel has been a huge surprise in the rotation. The Chicago offense ranks second in runs scored even though the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler have scuffled. The Cubs lost young slugger Kyle Schwarber early in the season to torn knee ligaments. He had surgery this week and won't be back until 2017. Chicago is -360 on MLB picks to win the Central and +225 for its first pennant since 1945.

Second place in the division will likely be a battle between St. Louis, the defending Central champion, and Pittsburgh all season. Both are hovering around .500 thus far. The Cardinals lead the majors in runs but are likely doing it with mirrors. Guys like Aledmys Diaz and Jeremy Hazelbaker are playing out of their minds. But then these are the Cardinals and they always find guys to do the job. The Cards and Pirates are both +500 for the division and +1050 for the pennant.

Current MLB Division Pick: Cubs.

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NL West
The Los Angeles Dodgers are three-time champions of this division but were supposed to feel the loss of 2015 Cy Young runner-up Zack Greinke to free agency. Except that Japanese rookie Kenta Maeda has been the best pitcher in the NL with a 3-0 record and league-best 0.47 ERA in three starts. Can he keep that up? Of course not. But Clayton Kershaw remains his nearly unhittable self. The Dodgers aren't going anywhere and will be even more formidable once they finally get fully healthy in the outfield and rotation. L.A. is +125 to win the division again and +700 for the pennant.

Arizona and San Francisco were both very active this offseason in adding pitching to dethrone the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks signed Greinke and traded for Shelby Miller, and the Giants signed Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Arizona's gamble hasn't paid off yet, while San Francisco's largely has. The Giants also have the best offense thus far in the division. There's really no easy out in that lineup other than the pitcher. And don't forget: it's an even-numbered year. Thus San Francisco is supposed to win the World Series. The Giants are +130 to win the division and +700 for the pennant.

Current MLB Division Pick: Giants.