- The latest National League playoff odds have every team in the NL Central at plus-money
- Last year, both the Cardinals and Brewers made the postseason
- We explore which NL Central team provides the best playoff value in 2020
Recent history has been kind to the NL Central.
In each of the past two years, the division has produced two playoff teams. A member of the division has also made the NLCS every year since 2011.
But could that trend be coming to an end in 2020?
2020 NL Central Playoff Odds
|Team||2019 Record||Odds to Make Playoffs||Odds to Miss Playoffs|
|St. Louis Cardinals||91-71||+110||-130|
Odds taken Mar. 5
When the 2020 MLB Playoff odds opened up, the Cardinals had the best odds in the NL Central, sitting at -110. Since then they’ve slid to +110, and held there throughout the most recent update.
The Central is well-represented when it comes to the second tier, though. The Cubs opened at +140 and have seen little movement, with the Reds close behind. The Brewers opened at +250 and have inched their way up.
Given the fact the whole division now sits at plus-money, the trick becomes finding the wise investment.
Reds Pose Power Threat in NL Central
There are two big keys for the Reds. The first is that they have to hope Trevor Bauer sorts out whatever was bothering him following his trade from Cleveland last year.
I’ll play the Opening Day lineup game, given all are ready to roll. Off the top of my head, how does this look? #Reds
1. Shogo CF
2. Votto 1B
3. Suarez 3B
4. Moustakas 2B
5. Castellanos RF
6. Galvis SS
7. Winker LF
8. Barnhart C
9. Castillo P
— Kareem Elgazzar (@ElgazzarBLVD) February 29, 2020
He came to the Reds with a 3.79 ERA. He finished the year with a 6.39 ERA in 10 NL starts. So far, so good with five scoreless innings over two spring outings.
The other thing that Cincy needs? Their off-season acquisitions to pay off.
Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos in 2019
Moustakas comes to the Reds on the heels of his third-straight 28+ homer season. He’s never cracked 100 RBI, but provides a solid floor in the 80-90 range.
Castellanos provides similar production, providing Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto with help.
Last Hurrah for Cubs’ Bryant?
Depending on what happens, this could be Kris Bryant’s last year with the Cubs. But Chicago would be wise to capitalize on whatever time he has left.
Bryant and Javier Baez highlight a deep offense. They’re both established stars, leading a talented lineup that includes Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber.
But the pitching is worrisome.
Cubs Projected Top 3 Starters
*All stats from 2019
Jon Lester has finished with an ERA over 4.00 in two of his last three seasons.
After an injury-shortened 2018, Yu Darvish came back with a great second half and a career-high in strikeouts.
With Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks rounding things out, the Cubs will get innings out of their starters. But seemingly lack a high-end ace.
Brewers and Cardinals Hold Playoff Aspirations
Milwaukee is betting on Christian Yelich and that’s a good bet. They could very well be trotting out the NL MVP once again.
But what else is there?
They’re relying on Omar Narvaez to replicate last year’s career season, and there isn’t much else. In terms of starting pitching, Milwaukee got the sixth-fewest innings out of their rotation last year and 2020 may look pretty similar.
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) December 29, 2019
Losing Marcell Ozuna to the Braves is a big blow to the Cards’ offense. You’re left with a group that has proven, but aging pieces. The younger position players they’re going to rely on could battle consistency issues too.
Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson give St. Louis a solid 1-2 punch atop the rotation, but they need to hope for good health all around.
Cubs Best Playoff Bet in NL Central
The ceiling for best-case scenarios in this division seems like 95 wins. And looking at the rosters, we like the Cubs’ chances the best (+152).
Given that the NL East contains the Nationals, Braves and Phillies, that shrinks the odds of having two NL Central playoff teams. A surprise alongside the Dodgers in the West lessens those odds even more.
It’ll be a lean year in the NL Central with just one playoff team. And with a pretty level playing field, value will be hard to come by.
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