2015 National League Pennant Odds

Harper
Harper
Bryce Harper and the Nationals are favorites to win the 2015 NL Pennant.

Washington Nationals 13/4 – The addition of Max Scherzer rocketed the Nationals to the top contenders in the National League and rightfully so. He will eat innings which will help the bullpen. The offense is solid, but not spectacular in my opinion but I do like skipper Matt Williams a lot because he knows how to generate some runs.

Los Angeles Dodgers 19/4 – Brandon McCarthy makes the starting rotation deeper but did the bullpen and offense get any better? I think the Dodgers challenge but any dropoff could result in Don Mattingly going bye-bye.

Chicago Cubs 6/1 – Joe Maddon instantly adds wins to this team and adding some more talent to the already talented youth doesn’t hurt either. Can they live up to higher expectations? Time will tell.

San Diego Padres 13/2 – The addition of James Shields will give the pitching staff a much needed boost and the offense will be better as well. The problem is the division where the Giants and Dodgers aren’t going to go away anytime soon.

St. Louis Cardinals 13/2 – Although some extra pitching would have been nice in the offseason, the Cardinals did add Jason Heyward to the outfield and the line-up. I see no reason why the Cards aren’t right where they usually are in the end.

Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner will need a repeat performance if the Giants are to repeat as the champs.

San Francisco Giants 17/2 – The defending champs aren’t fond of odd-numbered years and their pitching staff, outside of Madison Bumgarner is a little questionable. Plus, who replaces Pablo Sandoval?

New York Mets 14/1 – Michael Cuddyer comes over from Colorado so while we can expect his numbers to drop a bit he is still a solid upgrade. There are capable players on this team so if the pitching can come through the Mets could be a challenge in the East.

Pittsburgh Pirates 14/1 – The Battling Buccos have to replace Russell Martin behind the dish and that won’t be easy. He was a great leader and was well-liked by the fans. A.J. Burnett returns to the rotation but will they get enough out of the starters this year?

Miami Marlins 16/1 – This team will have a very exciting outfield which should put butts in seats. The questions will be mostly about pitching and whether the Marlins will have enough of it to stay with the Nationals.

Cincinnati Reds 28/1 – After competing in recent years the Reds will take a significant step back. They lack any real depth and should they stay healthy could be a factor but they dumped too many guys to consider them.

Atlanta Braves 33/1 – The Braves unloaded a lot of players recently and seem to be throwing in the towel for this season and maybe next year as well.

Milwaukee Brewers 33/1 – The Brewmasters started so hot last season but then the roof collapsed and they were caught by St. Louis and Pittsburgh. I don’t see any type of start this year resembling what they did in 2014.

Arizona Diamondbacks 50/1 – This team is destined for the basement in the National League West unless they can best the Rockies which is debatable. The Padres got better and there’s no way they are in the same league as the Dodgers and Giants.

Colorado Rockies 75/1 – The Rockies have very little pitching and the offense is going to rely too heavily on just a couple of guys for them to be taken seriously in 2015.

Philadelphia Phillies 75/1 – It’s a fantastic baseball city that probably deserves better but I don’t see much hope in sight. This is going to be another long year especially in a division with three top, improved teams.

Who I like… As much as I hate going with the favorite, I think Washington gets over the hump behind a monster pitching staff and wins the pennant.

MLB Futures Update

The new-look Toronto Blue Jays remain the bookies' favorite to win the 2013 World Series.

In 47 days’ time, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers will take to the baseball diamond at Minute Maid Park, raising the curtain on the 2013 Major League Baseball Season.

With pitchers and catchers arriving in Arizona and Florida this week for Spring Training, there’s still plenty of deals to be done before that first pitch is thrown – not to mention a cavalcade of storylines that still need to fully unravel – but Casino Review is going to take this time to look at the updated MLB futures, and how they could still be impacted six weeks or so before the season proper gets underway.

Currently No. 1 on the MLB futures list is Toronto. Since November’s mega-trade with the Miami Marlins, the Blue Jays have held firm at the top of bookmakers list.

The retooled Blue Jays will welcome the likes of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Melky Cabrera, and 2012 Cy Young award-winner, R.A. Dickey to the fold when the team takes to the Rogers Centre field for its first game on Apr. 2.

Whilst the collection of talent – the likes of which the Blue Jays have never seen before, even during its World Series winning season of 1992 and 1993 – has wowed bookmakers to the tune of 7/1 odds to win the World Series, bettors need only take a look at this season’s Los Angeles Lakers, or last year’s Miami Marlins for that matter, to see how this could blow up in their face.

Toronto is 7/2 to win the AL pennant at this time.

No. 2 on the MLB futures list is Washington. The Nationals are considered 8/1 to win the World Series next season, and 15/4 to win the NL pennant.

After enjoying the franchise’s best season since moving to D.C., Washington had the luxury this winter of sticking with what brought it to the dance. Aside from the usual tinkering and sorting that goes along with the offseason, the team did add closer Rafael Soriano to the bullpen, at the cost of a two-year, $28 million contract. That instantly makes the Nationals a better side.

At 8/1 to win the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers sit level with Washington on the World Series futures list, but the Southern California side narrowly trails the Nationals in terms of the NL pennant. The Dodgers are considered 4/1 to win the National League.

Like the Blue Jays, the Dodgers were involved in a blockbuster trade last year, only in this case it happened during the season. The arrival of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford might not have come in time for the Dodgers to catch San Francisco in the NL West, but odds makers like the side’s chances from the off this season.

The MLB futures’ top five is rounded out by Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels, both of whom are considered 9/1 to win the World Series, and 9/2 to win the AL pennant.

After winning the AL pennant in 2012, the Tigers haven’t made a huge splash in the market this offseason, but with it expected that Victor Martinez should return from injury (ACL) this season in the DH spot, odds makers like the Motor City side to contend again. It doesn’t harm that AL MVP and Triple Crown-winner Miguel Cabrera will be back at third base.

The Angels did make a splash this winter, signing free agent Josh Hamilton from under the noses of the Texas Rangers. Hamilton – who has suffered alcohol dependency issues – is a risk but one the Angels and bookmakers like, especially when the long ball hitter is next to Albert Pujols.

We’ve included a breakdown of all odds pertaining to the World Series, American League and National League below, but here are a few more noteworthy observations.

World Series champion San Francisco finds itself in joint sixth spot on the World Series futures (14/1) alongside Atlanta, Cincinnati, the New York Yankees and Texas. The Giants are tied with Atlanta in fourth place on the NL futures (7/1) behind Washington, the Dodgers, and Cincinnati (6/1).

The Yankees and Rangers (both 13/2) are tied for fourth spot in the AL with plenty of questions surrounding the organizations, not least in New York’s case the uncertainty surrounding the health and possible PED usage of Alex Rodriguez.

At the other end of the futures list, Houston is the least favored team in terms of the World Series (200/1) and, in its first season in the league, the AL pennant (75/1).

After shipping the majority of its high-priced talent north to Toronto, Miami finds itself at the bottom of the NL list, alongside the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies at 50/1. Each of those sides, as well as Minnesota and the New York Mets, is considered 100/1 to win the World Series.

 

Odds to Win 2013 World Series

Toronto Blue Jays 7/1

Los Angeles Dodgers 8/1

Washington Nationals 8/1

Detroit Tigers 9/1

Los Angeles Angels 9/1

Atlanta Braves 14/1

Cincinnati Reds 14/1

New York Yankees 14/1

San Francisco Giants 14/1

Texas Rangers 14/1

Philadelphia Phillies 18/1

St. Louis Cardinals 20/1

Tampa Bay Rays 25/1

Boston Red Sox 30/1

Oakland Athletics 33/1

Baltimore Orioles 40/1

Chicago White Sox 40/1

Milwaukee Brewers 40/1

Arizona Diamondbacks 50/1

Kansas City Royals 50/1

Pittsburgh Pirates 50/1

Cleveland Indians 75/1

San Diego Padres 75/1

Seattle Mariners 75/1

Chicago Cubs 100/1

Colorado Rockies 100/1

Miami Marlins 100/1

Minnesota Twins 100/1

New York Mets 100/1

Houston Astros 200/1

 

Odds to Win 2013 AL Pennant

Toronto Blue Jays 7/2

Detroit Tigers 9/2

Los Angeles Angels 9/2

New York Yankees 13/2

Texas Rangers 13/2

Tampa Bay Rays 12/1

Boston Red Sox 14/1

Oakland Athletics 16/1

Baltimore Orioles 20/1

Chicago White Sox 20/1

Kansas City Royals 25/1

Cleveland Indians 40/1

Seattle Mariners 40/1

Minnesota Twins 50/1

Houston Astros 75/1

 

Odds to Win 2013 NL Pennant

Washington Nationals 15/4

Los Angeles Dodgers 4/1

Cincinnati Reds 6/1

Atlanta Braves 7/1

San Francisco Giants 7/1

Philadelphia Phillies 17/2

St. Louis Cardinals 9/1

Milwaukee Brewers 18/1

Arizona Diamondbacks 25/1

Pittsburgh Pirates 25/1

New York Mets 40/1

San Diego Padres 40/1

Chicago Cubs 50/1

Colorado Rockies 50/1

Miami Marlins 50/1

All odds supplied by Bovada.

MLB Okays Marlins-Jays Mega Deal

After just one year in Miami, Jose Reyes (along with several of his team mates) will take to the field in Toronto next season, a move that has seen the Blue Jays rise in bookmakers' eyes.

Monday saw Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig put his official seal of approval on the mega trade between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays.

Almost a week after the trade was first reported, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson are now officially members of the Blue Jays organization. Meanwhile, Toronto’s front office has been busy making a number of other signings.

Miami Offloads Unwanted Talent

First reported last Wednesday, after finishing the season with a 69-93 record and dead last in the NL East, the Miami Marlins agreed a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that would send five of its biggest names north of the border.

The deal, which was agreed between the two sides during the Winter Baseball Owners’ Meetings, proposed the following moves:

Toronto obtains: Emilio Bonifacio (IF/OF), John Buck (C), Mark Buehrle (LHP), Josh Johnson (RHP), Jose Reyes (SS)

Miami obtains: Henderson Alvarez (RHP), Anthony DeSclafani (RHP), Yunel Escobar (SS), Adeiny Hechavarria (IF),Jake Marisnick (OF), Jeff Mathis (C), Justin Nicolino (LHP)

Miami’s move to purge itself of the big contracts of Buehrle and Reyes – both debutants following last summer’s spending extravaganza – as well as long-time Marlin Johnson, was met by controversy in South Florida, where taxpayers are responsible for 80 percent of the brand new $634 million Marlins Park.

Some went so far as to call for commissioner Selig to veto the deal in the ‘interests of baseball’, something that was given consideration.

Monday however saw Selig sign off on the deal, stating that, “[the move] does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion.”

It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know if Selig really believed the deal to be fully aboveboard or whether he was simply looking to avoid the fallback of getting involved in a deal that was not his to be involved with, as happened to the NBA’s David Stern during the Chris Paul saga last year.

What we do know is that, pending medicals, those eleven players will be donning new uniforms come spring training.

Jays Continue to Fish

Not content with luring Reyes and Co. from the Marlins, the Blue Jays confirmed that a deal had been inked with free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera on Monday.

The two-year deal comes after Cabrera was suspended for 50 games for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy, testing positive for the use of testosterone. Cabrera was eligible to return ahead of the postseason, but San Francisco chose to leave the outfielder in limbo as it went on to win the World Series.

Before his suspension, Cabrera had led the National League in hitting with a .346 average.

Cabrera now joins a homerun hitting lineup that includes the aforementioned Reyes as well as Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

Gibbons Welcomed Back

The Toronto front office also announced on Tuesday that it had filled the manager position vacated by John Farrell, who accepted the same position in Boston after two seasons with the Jays.

Farrell’s successor will be John Gibbons, who previously managed the side between 2004 and 2008.

Gibbons replaced Carlos Tosca midway through the 2004 season, compiling a 20-30 record in his first partial season. Gibbons picked up the American League Manager of the Year award in 2005 and managed the Jays to two winning seasons (2006, 2007). He was relieved of his duties in June 2008 having led the club to a 35-39 record.

Gibbons’ all-time record with the Jays is 350-350.

Gibbons has since worked as a bench coach in Kansas City and a manager in San Diego’s farm system.

Running Up the Rankings

With so much activity taking place in Southern Ontario, it should come as no surprise to learn that there has been a lot of movement in the MLB Futures.

Before news of the mega deal broke last week, Toronto – who has not been to the postseason since winning a second consecutive World Series in 1993 – was considered 35/1 to take the big prize at the end of the 2013 season.

The news ushered in new odds of 14/1. News that Cabrera will be plying his trade north of the border this season have seen these odds shorten once again, with the Jays now considered 11/1 – the same as the New York Yankees – to win the World Series.

Miami has subsequently gone the other way following its payroll purge. 40/1 odds have skyrocketed to 100/1, a figure on par with Colorado and Minnesota. Only one side is considered less likely to win it all: Houston (200/1).

Busy Day in Baseball Has Postseason Contenders On Show

 

If anybody had any lingering doubts about whether the additional Wild Card place this year was a good thing, they need only look at the standings as we head into the final two weeks of the regular season.

No fewer than 10 teams in the National League have a valid shot at making the postseason, while eight teams in the American League are in with a chance. Everything really is still to play for.

Here’s a look at some of the important games on tap Tuesday night. If you’re thinking of placing a wager or two, you’ve got plenty to contemplate first; no fewer than 14 of the 15 games feature teams still in the postseason hunt.

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Washington Nationals

Jordan Zimmerman takes the mound for Washington against Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Los Angeles (76-71, 36-36 road) visits Washington (89-57, 44-27 home) on the back of a 4-game split with St. Louis. The Cardinals remain one game up in the race for the final Wild Card place – Atlanta has all but wrapped up the first Wild Card. Winning in Washington is essential, especially with a tough trip to Cincinnati following.

The Dodgers may have a chance on Tuesday night as Washington pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (10-8, 3.01 ERA) looked tired last time out. Aaron Harang (9-9, 3.79 ERA) takes the mound for L.A. and has been consistent at keeping his team in the game if not winning.

Los Angeles swept Washington in a 3-game set at the end of April. The Nationals are sitting on three straight losses to the Braves, who are closing the gap in the NL East. Take Los Angeles to upset the Nationals in this one. Take the under on 8 runs.

Milwaukee Brewers @ Pittsburgh Pirates

After a late surge, Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers (74-72, 28-43 road) are somehow back in the mix for a postseason berth. They head into Tuesday’s game tied with Pittsburgh (74-72, 42-30 home) at 2.5 games out of the final Wild Card place.

Pittsburgh has gone into free fall over the last month and now looks unlikely to be play on in October. However, with their ace A.J. Burnett (15-7, 3.66) taking the mound on Tuesday they look a good bet to squeeze past the Brewers. Take the underdog Pirates at +105 in this one. Take the over on 7.5 runs.

National League Round Up: Atlanta (85-63, 42-31 road) is favored over Miami (65-83, 34-39 home) and looks a safe bet. Ian Kennedy pitches for Arizona (72-74, 36-36 home) giving the D’Backs a decided advantage over San Diego (71-76, 31-41 road). St. Louis (77-70, 43-29 home) hosts Houston (48-99, 16-56 road) and should win in what will be the Astros’ 100th loss of the year. Philadelphia (74-74, 37-37 road) will be underdog in New York but Monday night’s win will spur the Phillies on to victory.

 

Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers

Detroit will look to Max Scherzer to lead the team to a much-needed victory over Oakland.

Detroit (77-69, 43-28 home) lost in Monday night’s rescheduled game in Chicago, dropping the Tigers to three games back of the AL Central-leading White Sox. It’s now looking increasingly unlikely Detroit will be playing come October.

Oakland (84-62, 40-31 road) on the other hand continues to hold tight to its postseason hopes. A series win over Baltimore, and an 8-2 record over the last 10 has the A’s headed for Detroit on a roll. Expect a slight bump in the road as Max Scherzer (16-6, 3.77 ERA) takes the mound on Tuesday night. Go with the favorite Tigers in this one.

Texas Rangers @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Texas (87-59, 40-32 road) has been quiet of late. That’s what happens when you consistently go about your business. The Rangers have led the AL West since April 9, and rarely looked like relinquishing that lead. Oakland currently sits three games back, and has seven still to play against the Texas side, so it’s not quite a done deal yet.

Tuesday sees the Rangers enter a game as a rare underdog, something that can be attributed to Jered Weaver (17-4, 2.74 ERA) taking the mound for the Angels (80-67, 40-32 home). Without Weaver, the Angels would have been long-gone in the hunt for the postseason. As it stands, the Orange County side is just three games back of the final Wild Card berth. Despite the pitcher’s record, take Texas in this one. This is a team looking to close out.

American League Round Up: Andy Pettitte (3-3, 3.22 ERA) returns from injury to start for the Yankees (83-63, 43-29 home). The Bombers are favored over Toronto (66-79, 30-41 road) and there’s very little to suggest going against the odds. Tampa Bay (78-69, 39-33 home) has fallen behind the pace and will need to beat Boston (67-81, 34-38 road) to stay in the hunt. Monday night’s loss was a reminder that the Red Sox can still play spoiler. Take the favored Rays in this one though. Meanwhile, expect Baltimore and the White Sox to win respectively.

Short slate of baseball before football kicks off

 

If the Dallas Cowboys upsetting the New York Giants on Wednesday night has put you in the mood for a spot of betting, there’s no need to wait until Sunday afternoon’s NFL kickoff games. Ahead of Sunday’s 13-game schedule there’s plenty of sporting action to be had.

First up is a short slate of Major League Baseball games on Thursday night. While most teams are currently prepping for three-game sets this weekend, 10 teams will be in action tonight. Four of the five games are series closers, with three involving teams looking good to make the postseason. The other is a biggie.

Tim Hudson and the Atlanta Braves are looking to close out their series against Colorado with a win Thursday night.

Kicking things off, Tim Hudson (13-5, 3.76 ERA) and the Atlanta Braves (77-60, 39-32 home) host the Colorado Rockies (56-79, 26-38 road). The Rockies have been nothing to write home about this season and the focus here will be on the Braves trying to maintain 4 ½ game lead in the race for a Wild Card spot. Jhoulys Chachin (2-4, 4.85 ERA) will go for the Rockies so Hudson is the favorite in this one. Despite Colorado having taken one of three from the Braves this week bet on the Braves at +110 to cover the spread.

Atlanta’s NL East rivals Washington will also be in action tonight. The Nationals (84-52, 42-25 home) host Chicago (51-85, 17-51 road). Leave it to the lowly Cubbies to help the Nationals out of a mini-slump. The Nats have taken three in a row against Chicago this week after struggling over the past two weeks, and with Jordan Zimmerman (9-8, 3.01 ERA) looking to make-up for a poor outing Saturday, it’s hard to see past Washington on Thursday. Oddsmakers agree. The Nationals enter the game as -1.5 favorites at -120 odds.

Elsewhere in the National League, the Milwaukee Brewers (67-69, 26-41 road) finish off a four-game series at Miami (60-77, 31-37). You’d have to be a diehard fan to watch this one, but some in-play action could be interesting for bettors. For the record, the Marlins are favored despite Milwaukee having taken two of three this week.

Over in the American League, AL West-leaders Texas (81-55, 38-30 road) has one game left in Kansas City (61-75, 31-37 home). Unsurprisingly, the Rangers enter the game as favorite (-1.5 at +115 odds) but Kansas snatched a victory on Tuesday and Rangers starter Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.01 ERA) is ripe for the pickings. Take the Royals for the upset here.

Rookie David Phelps will take the mound for the Yankees' opener in Baltimore on Thursday night.

The biggest game on tap Thursday night will be the New York Yankees (77-59, 36-31 road) travelling to Baltimore (76-60, 37-30 home) for the first of four. New York managed to edge one game ahead in the AL East after defeating Tampa Bay on Wednesday, while Baltimore fell to Toronto. This weekend’s series will be even bigger than last weekend’s showdown in the Bronx.

Thursday’s matchup see David Phelps (3-4, 3.13 ERA) go for the Yankees against Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.54). Phelps is spelling the injured Andy Pettitte. The rookie has impressed this season, maintaining a respectable ERA under the big lights of New York. Hobbled by injuries, the Yanks welcomed back Alex Rodriguez this week and despite Mark Teixeira still being on the DL, on Wednesday night the Bombers looked like they might be ready to turn a corner. Baltimore head into this one as underdogs and could be worth a stake, but this one smells like a statement game for the Yankees. Expect Derek Jeter to lead by example.

After all of that, if you still fancy an NFL warm up, College Football is back Thursday night with Pittsburgh (0-1) traveling to Cincinnati (0-0) in a Big East showdown. The Bearcats are narrow favorites (-4 ½ at -115) in what will be the team’s season opener.

Utah (1-0) travels to Utah State (1-0) on Friday night before a full slate of college games takes center stage on Saturday while the race for the MLB postseason continues across the weekend, including what could be Stephen Strasburg’s last outing of the year (Vs. Miami, Friday 7:05 PM ET).

Then, of course, NFL Week 1 kicks off proper on Sunday, with the pick of the bunch looking to be San Francisco at Green Bay and Pittsburgh at Denver. Oddsmakers like both home teams here, but Pittsburgh could well get after Peyton Manning and the Broncos for the [narrow] upset.