- The Chicago Cubs are 7-12 in their last 19 games
- The St. Louis Cardinals have only played 14 of their 58 games against teams with a losing record
- The Milwaukee Brewers lead the National League in home runs
The National League Central has proven to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball. The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers have been strong, the St. Louis Cardinals have spent time in first, while the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds look like they’re on the rise.
Who is the best bet to win the NL Central at this point? Highly debatable.
What’s not debatable is that various sportsbooks have drastically different takes on a few teams in this race. Here’s how MyBookie, BetOnline, and Bovada have the odds as of June 4.
2019 Odds To Win National League Central
|Team||Odds at MyBookie||Odds at BetOnline||Odds at Bovada|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+300||+450||+290|
Cubs Are In A Funk
If there’s one word to describe the Cubs 2019 campaign, it’s “streaky”. We’re talking about a team that started the year 1-6, then won 24 of their next 32 games, but is just 7-12 in its last 19 contests.
The bullpen has let them down, partially because of injuries. Brendan Morrow and Pedro Stroup are out and the team has really had a tough time closing games. Only the New York Mets have blown more saves than the Cubs.
#Cubs batting average with RISP:
2019: 0.240 (2nd worst in NL)
2018: 0.247 (6th worst in NL)
2017: 0.253 (5th worst in NL)
Team has been getting on base at an extremely high rate, they just can’t get these guys in and I’m not quite sure how to fix it.
— Ryan Sikes (@cubsguy20) June 2, 2019
The bullpen issues could be addressed soon as there are rumors they’ll sign Craig Kimbrel; but the bigger concern might be the team’s efforts with runners in scoring position. They are third in all of baseball in on-base percentage (.346) but are second-last in terms of batting average with runners in scoring position.
That’s been a problem for three years now, so it’s not likely they snap out of it. That’s something you have to worry about if you plan to bet them.
Brewers On The Rise
The Brew Crew have also been streaky this season, but they’re 17-10 in their last 27 games. That’s helped them rise to the top of the Central division, usurping first place from the Cubs.
By most calculations, this team has played among the toughest schedules in baseball. They just wrapped up a 10-game road trip that saw them visit the Cubs, Phillies and Braves. The good news is the schedule should ease up soon.
While most people know that Christian Yelich is playing like an MVP, he’s not a one-man show. This team leads the NL in home runs, is fourth in on-base percentage, and fifth in OPS. And that’s with Jesus Aguilar, an All-Star last year, struggling and with Lorenzo Cain (.252 BA in May) coming off a rough month.
Starting pitching is still a bit of a concern but this is still probably the safest bet as of right now.
Cardinals A Value Play
The challenge with “safe” is that it doesn’t offer much value. That’s why I’m looking to the Cardinals for a flier could pay out. They’ve played a very grueling schedule so far. Of their first 58 games, only 14 have come against teams with a losing record. They’ve played the third-toughest schedule to date.
The upcoming schedule offers plenty of easier opportunities. They just swept the Cubs and they’ve got 17 games against teams with a losing record in June.
Remember that they started the season 20-10; they are capable of being a contender in this division – even if they followed it up with a 6-18 stretch. They’ve won four in a row and with a soft upcoming schedule, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re a real contender in the Central one month from now.
What’s The Best Bet?
If you’re looking for the safe play, the Brewers are it. The Cubs have some deep-rooted hitting issues that won’t be easy to fix. The Brewers are the most complete team. However, if you’re looking for a bit of value with a longer shot, I do like the Cardinals given the odds at this point.
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