The NL Central Betting Preview for the 2020 MLB Season
By: Ryan Gilbert
The National League Central is going to be another tough division this season. Four of the five teams have an over/under of more than 82 wins, with those four teams at +300 or better to win the division. It’s completely up in the air, but here is all the information you need to figure out how to take advantage of the best NL Central odds around.
*All Over/Under Win totals are subject to change due to Corona Virus. Over/Under Win Totals based on 162 regular season*
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St. Louis Cardinals Odds and NL Central Betting Preview
St. Louis Cardinals Over/under: 85.5 wins
St. Louis Cardinals Odds to win Division: +225
St. Louis Cardinals Odds to win League: +900
St. Louis Cardinals Odds to win World Series: +2000
The St. Louis Cardinals have been one of the most consistently good teams in baseball over the past 20 years. Since the turn of the century, the Cardinals have made the playoffs in 13 of 20 years, and they have been above .500 in 19 of 20 seasons, with the lone exception being in 2007 when they won 78 games.
Last season the Cardinals returned to the top of the division with 91 wins after putting up win totals in the mid-80s in the three years prior (86, 83, 88).
The Cardinals are going into 2020 with much of the same from 2019. Jack Flaherty is their newfound ace of a relatively deep pitching staff. Paul Goldschmidt anchors the lineup, as the infield is one of the Cardinals’ strengths with Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, Matt Carpenter, and Kolten Wong producing in the top half of the lineup.
85 wins is a pretty good line for the Cardinals. However, it may be a tad too low. They have won 86 or more games in 11 of the past 12 seasons. After 91 seasons with this team last year, they should be able to reach 86 or more again this season. Bet on the over 85.5 wins for the Cardinals.
Chicago Cubs Odds and NL Central Betting Preview
Chicago Cubs Over/under: 86.5 wins
Chicago Cubs Odds to win Division: +250
Chicago Cubs Odds to win League: +1100
Chicago Cubs Odds to win World Series: +2500
The Chicago Cubs have regressed since their World Series win in 2016. They won 92 and 95 games in 2017 and 2018 but lost in the NLCS in 2017 and then in the Wild Card Game the following year. Last year, the Cubs failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014 as they won “just” 84 games.
Like the Cardinals, the Cubs brought back a pretty similar roster to last season. They added a few veteran bats and arms to fill out the roster, but the main guys are still there.
The Cubs have at least four players with 25+ home run potential in Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber. Wilson Contreras will hit close to 20 behind the plate, with utility man Ian Happ having the potential to hit around 20 homers as well.
On the mound, the Cubs don’t have that dominant ace anymore, but they have three or four starters that would typically be a No. 2 guy. Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, and Jon Lester are a good one through four, with Tyler Chatwood rounding it out as a solid fifth starter.
While things are looking good for the Cardinals, I don’t know if we can say the same about the Cubs. They’ll be looking to bounce back and get to the postseason, but 87 wins is a lot – especially in this division. Bet on the under 86.5 wins here.
Milwaukee Brewers Odds and NL Central Betting Preview
Milwaukee Brewers Over/under: 82.5 wins
Milwaukee Brewers Odds to win Division: +300
Milwaukee Brewers Odds to win League: +1500
Milwaukee Brewers Odds to win World Series: +3300
The Milwaukee Brewers are looking for another strong season in a competitive NL Central. For my money, the Brewers should be the favorite in this division.
The Brewers have the best player in the National League in Christian Yelich. They also have up-and-coming second baseman Keston Hiura, who is due for an even bigger breakout season in 2020. He will be a great one-two punch with Yelich for years to come. The Brewers also still have Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun hanging on, with Justin Smoak and Avisail Garcia as good hitters in the bottom half of their lineup.
The Brewers’ one weakness is their starting rotation. Brandon Woodruff is their ace, with a bunch of iffy starters behind him. However, what they lack in starters, they have in relievers as Josh Hader is one of the best closers in the game.
Milwaukee hasn’t taken that big of a step back that they won’t reach the .500 mark. Bet on the over 82.5 wins and perhaps +300 to win the division as well.
Cincinnati Reds Odds and NL Central Betting Preview
Cincinnati Reds Over/under: 83.5 wins
Cincinnati Reds Odds to win Division: +300
Cincinnati Reds Odds to win League: +1800
Cincinnati Reds Odds to win World Series: +3500
The Cincinnati Reds are hoping that a big offseason can catapult them into the race in the NL Central. After finishing in fourth or fifth place for six straight seasons, with an average of less than 70 wins per season, their over/under is up to 83.5!
The Reds have only won more than 83 games three times since 2001: 91 wins in 2010, 97 wins in 2012, and 90 wins in 2013. They have still yet to win a playoff series since 1995.
The Reds went to all corners of the globe this offseason. They signed Japanese leadoff hitter Shogo Akiyama, who is a five-tool player and will be atop their lineup. Joey Votto is still an efficient and productive hitter, and there’s plenty of other power in the lineup in the form of Eugenio Suarez, Mike Moustakas, and free-agent addition Nick Castellanos.
They have a Big Three of their own in the starting rotation with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer, but it falls off after that.
The Reds improved this offseason, but I don’t think they’re at 84 wins yet. Bet on the under 83.5 wins here.
Hey Look! The Pittsburgh Pirates Odds
Pittsburgh Pirates Over/under: 69.5 wins
Pittsburgh Pirates Odds to win Division: +5000
Pittsburgh Pirates Odds to win League: +10000
Pittsburgh Pirates Odds to win World Series: +20000
You have to feel for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Even when they were good in the mid 2010s, they either lost the Wild Card Game (twice) or lost in the first round, despite having the NL MVP and Manager of the Year. Now, after just 69 wins last season, things aren’t looking much better in 2020.
Josh Bell, Gregory Polanco, and Bryan Reynolds are the three bats to watch for, with the starting rotation being a group of guys looking to either take that next step or bounce back, like Chris Archer. This will be a competitive division, and the Pirates are included in that. They won’t be awful, but they won’t be great. It’ll be close but bet on the under 69.5 wins.