Not quite three weeks into the new season, the National League Central might not have much profit potential for those slaving over the betting odds to place MLB picks at wagering outlets.
St. Louis has broke swiftly, the Cubs are meeting lofty expectations, Cincinnati might be better and Pittsburgh is presumed to come around and be a factor in the division. Though the ebb and flow of the season will create various scenarios, you don’t get the sense one team will run away and this could be a competitive group. In fact, the best team to use for MLB picks might be Milwaukee, who is playing horridly and could draw a lot of play against action.
St. Louis Cardinals – Pitching Makes St. Louis a Winner
To date, manager Mike Matheny team looks like a twin to last year’s crew. St. Louis is scoring just 3.9 runs a contest yet is beating the MLB odds by having a pitching staff that is from another planet. The Cardinals team ERA is 2.14, not starters, not relievers, the entire group. Their walks allowed are fourth in the NL and they do not give the big hits, being second in home runs given up and first in fewest doubles conceded. Eventually, the Redbirds will have to manufacture runs by walking, stealing and taking the extra base since it is already apparent the long ball again will not be a part of their arsenal. MLB baseball handicappers like the immediate future for St. Louis to make money with series against Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
Chicago Cubs – Progress on the North Side
If you have caught any of Cubs games this year, you can see they are headed in the right direction. They are far from perfect, but you can see the talent oozing out of Kris Bryant, Jorge Solar and Addison Russell. I never read or heard anywhere about manager Joe Maddon asking Starlin Castro to be a more active leader, but you can see he’s embracing playing with a better team with players closer to his age and he is second in command on the field behind Anthony Rizzo. If there has been anything disappointing thus far it has been Cubs pitching, with Jon Lester, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks all with ERA’s over 5. After splitting four at Pittsburgh, Chicago resumes play at Cincinnati followed by a homestand with the Pirates and Milwaukee. There should be some very good opportunities to utilize sports picks for and against the Cubs the next couple of weeks.
Cincinnati Reds – Cincinnati Not Bad, For Now
Sportsbooks predicted Cincinnati would once again be a below .500 team this season and while they ultimately might be, for now, the Reds are holding their own in the NL Central. Cincinnati is being carried by three players on offense, a healthy and much more aggressive Joey Votto at the plate (.361, BA, .466 OBP and 6 HR’s as of 4/22), Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips. Starters Johnny Cueto and Anthony DeSclafani both have ERA’s under two. You could make a case without researching Cincy has enjoyed some good fortune in having a 5-2 record in one run games, but the fact is there bullpen has the worst ERA in the NL and they have blown half of their eight save chances which in a few instances have taken leads down to a run. Facing the Cubs and Brewers at home could add to their win total, however, after that a rugged 10-game road trip arrives next and depending how they are playing, you might look to bet against the Reds frequently at that juncture.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh has Laboring Start Again
It seems odd, but for the second straight year manager Clint Hurdle’s Pirates are coming out of the starting blocks slowly. The offense has been spotty and the relief pitching has not been good in the initial part of the season (13th in ERA). Hurdle will have to work his magic again to find the right bullpen combinations and based on the last few seasons, he will. Pittsburgh has a solid club, thus nothing too much to get excited about. The Bucs will have a ‘tester’ road trip beginning this weekend, playing at Arizona, at the Cubs and at St. Louis. For wagering, watch how they are hitting and what the bullpen is up to for consideration.
Milwaukee Brewers – Injured and Pathetic
What a difference a year makes! Last season at this time, Milwaukee was frolicking on their way to a 20-8 first month of the season. This year the Brewers are horrible, having the worst record in the majors and they have earned it. On Thursday they ended their eight-game losing streak, nevertheless, they are 2-11 this season in contests decided by two or more runs. (1-7 in outcomes of four or more) Their pitchers have the highest ERA in baseball and with everyday starters Carlos Gomez, Jonathon Lucroy and Scotter Gennett all on the DL, the offense averaging a sickly 2.7 runs per outing. Owner Mark Attanasio flew into Milwaukee and said neither manager Ron Roenicke nor general manager Doug Melvin is on the hot seat. Yet when looking at the Brew Crew’s schedule the next month, they will likely play better, but how much better can they hope to be facing St. Louis, Cincinnati, the Cubs (6 games), the Dodgers, the White Sox, the Mets and Detroit by May 20th?