The landscape of baseball has changed dramatically over the last month. Big-name players continue to be traded or signed as free agents. Other clubs have inked key players to long-term extensions.
When it comes to making future wagers in any sport, especially baseball, one must take into consideration the payroll flexibility a team has to make future moves. In addition, based on moves made in the off-season, one can usually gauge a team’s front office views on if they are “going for it” or are satisfied to rebuild.
It is no secret that the Los Angeles Dodgers have made themselves the clear frontrunner for the NL Pennant. However, at +200 odds bettors may feel they are too short to back for an entire season.
Though they are likely to be the most supported team to win the pennant, we will make the case against the Dodgers to win the National League. In addition, we will offer a value bet on a serious contender to represent the NL in the World Series.
(odds courtesy of FanDuel)
The Case Against the Los Angeles Dodgers (+200)
After completing the trade for Mookie Betts and David Price, the sentiment around baseball was that the rich just got richer. The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the National League pennant two of the last three years. They have won seven straight division titles and have won at least 91 games in each of those seasons. They have scored the third-most runs in the national league over that span while also allowing the fewest runs. However, this year’s projected lineup could be their best in recent memory. Mookie Betts is a former MVP who fills a big void at the top of the lineup where the Dodgers struggled to find consistency. He joins fellow MVP Cody Bellinger as well as Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and Corey Seager. Their lone “question mark” is at second base with rookie Gavin Lux, though he has long been considered a top prospect.
While there is no debating their talented lineup, the case against the Dodgers is in their pitching. Los Angeles must replace 68 starts from Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda, and Rich Hill. Adding David Price will help in this regard, but the Dodgers will also be relying on youngsters like Julio Urias and Dustin May who have not pitched many big-league innings. As the Washington Nationals showed last year, the best pitching can always shut down the best hitting. Walker Buehler is a bonafide ace, but have we already seen the best days of Clayton Kershaw? In addition, throwing so many extra innings in consecutive postseasons is bound to catch up with their arms at some point. The Dodgers certainly deserve to be considered the favorite, but they are by no means invincible as some may think after the deal for Betts and Price.
As alluded to in the case against the Dodgers, the team that is going to knock them out of a postseason series will have to have superior starting pitching. There are not many teams with a better rotation than the Washington Nationals. Max Scherzer appears to be healthy after neck issues plagued him last year. Stephen Strasburg could have signed anywhere as a free agent but pledged his loyalty to the Nationals. Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez are as solid three and four starters as you will find.
The defending World Series champions did experience a big hit to the roster. The Los Angeles Angels plucked Anthony Rendon away from them. As a result, they are now left with a void of a big bat in the middle of the lineup. However, they have more than enough of a veteran presence to make up for Rendon’s loss. The Nationals will use a platoon of Howie Kendrick, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Starlin Castro to replace Rendon. If promising prospect Carter Kieboom can have a productive rookie season, that will just be an added bonus. 21-year-old Juan Soto is more than capable of putting this offense on his back if need be. The fact remains that the Nationals were always going to be a team that revolved around pitching.
The biggest risk in investing in Washington is that they are not a lock to win their division. The Braves, Mets, and Phillies are all set to challenge them. Even earning a wild card spot will take immense focus and good baseball for the entire season. They will get everyone’s best shot now that they are the defending champions, but the fact that they finally got the “monkey off their back” should have them playing loose all year. At +800, they are worth strong consideration.
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