With Opening Day less than two weeks away, it’s a perfect time to delve into some MLB futures, including divisional odds.
For the past few seasons, the National League Central has been one of the more competitive and hard-fought divisions in all of baseball.
However, with three of the five clubs seemingly in rebuilding mode, that narrative is likely to change. With that said, here are updated MLB betting odds for the NL Central.
National League Central Odds
|St. Louis Cardinals||+200|
Milwaukee Brewers -150
2021 Record: 95-67 (1st in NL Central)
Fresh off last season’s first-place finish, the Milwaukee Brewers are the odds-on favorite to capture a second consecutive division crown.
The first thing that comes to mind when discussing this Brewers squad is their elite pitching staff.
Anchored by reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee boasts perhaps the best rotation in all of baseball. Throw in elite set-up man Devin Williams, as well as electrifying closer Josh Hader, their bullpen is just as formidable.
Josh Hader: Mid-Season Form
Demolishing the side. pic.twitter.com/kGzFc0GQbL
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 22, 2022
Offensively, while the club did lose leading home run and RBI man Avisail Garcia to free agency, new acquisitions Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe should be able to replace some of that production. A bounce-back campaign from former NL MVP Christian Yelich is also not out of the equation.
Talented from top to bottom, it’s difficult to find fault in the Brewers’ current standing or the line movement from +100 to -150.
St. Louis Cardinals +200
2021 Record: 90-72 (2nd in NL Central)
A 17-game win streak propelled the Cards into last year’s Wild Card round, where they ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
One of baseball’s premier organizations, St. Louis always seems to find a way to remain competitive and that should be the case again this season. The offense looks strong with the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Tyler O’Neill, and Tommy Edman.
Unfortunately, ace pitcher Jack Flaherty, who was limited to 15 starts in 2021 because of injury, continues to deal with shoulder soreness and may not be available for the start of the regular season.
Adam Wainwright was fantastic in his 32 starts, but I’m not convinced we see that again in 2022. While it wouldn’t shock me if the Cardinals finish at the top of the division, a lot has to go right in the pitching department. It’s that potential and plus odds that has the Red Birds with the second-highest handle to win the Central.
Chicago Cubs +1100
2021 Record: 71-91 (4th in NL Central)
Cubs management made their rebuilding intentions clear when they traded away the final pieces of their 2016 World Series championship team at last year’s trade deadline.
Fans should still have something to cheer for, however, as the club inked Japanese star Seiya Suzuki to a five-year deal in the offseason. Chicago also added the charismatic Marcus Stroman to its uninspiring pitching staff.
While president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer appears to be positioning the organization for a quick rebuild, it will likely be next year at the earliest that he begins to see the fruits of his labor.
The Cubs have seen their odds shift from +900 but still own the highest handle in the division.
Cincinnati Reds + 1300
2021 Record: 83-79 (3rd in NL Central)
Coming off an 83-win campaign, the Cincinnati Reds made some head-scratching moves in the offseason.
In addition to letting outfielder Nick Castellanos walk in free agency, the organization also traded away fellow sluggers Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez, which clearly points to a rebuild.
Bettors have certainly taken notice as the Cincy’s opening odds to win the Central (+500) has nearly tripled. More could be on the way out as pitchers Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle continue to find their names in trade rumors. It could be a long year in Ohio.
Pittsburgh Pirates +5000
2021 Record: 61-101 (5th in NL Central)
Finally, we have the Pittsburgh Pirates, whom oddsmakers expect to finish last in the division for the fourth consecutive year. The opening odds of +3000 weren’t high enough to reflect exactly how big of a longshot the Buccos are.
A rebuild would be an understatement, with the club suffering 90 or more losses in each of the past two full seasons.
If there is one positive, it’s that Pittsburgh carries three of the top-30 MLB prospects in second baseman Nick Gonzales, catcher Henry Davis, and shortstop Oneil Cruz. Brighter days are ahead, but it could take a while which is why the Pirates are seeing less than 10% of the handle.