National League Playoff Hunt
Last week, after the trade deadline day, we had a quick look at the Wild Card hunt and since then, my two to keep an eye on have been going in opposite ways.
The New York Mets are still turning on the heat in the NL East, only a step behind the Phillies and slightly further behind the Nats, with a 9-1 record in their last ten and currently on a five-game winning streak. They’re also just 1.5 games back of the Wild Card spots. While you can still get that +10000 Best Odds on them to win the World Series, in other firms they’re as low as +3625. Act fast if you believe they’ll crack into the postseason.
The San Francisco Giants, however, have gone the complete opposite way; losing eight of the last 12. Their scorching bats they had throughout July has hit a snag, somewhat reminiscent of their 11-game losing streak they achieved last September (a San Francisco record). Obviously, it’s not that bad yet, but there are tell-tale signs that it could be. But hey, you can’t have every tip at around +10000 perform well, otherwise we’d all be millionaires.
Now we’ve had a bit of time for new signings to settle in their new respective teams, it’s about time we look at the National League playoff picture, focusing on divisional leaders who are more likely to make us money rather than +10000 picks.
National League East – Atlanta Braves +1100
Seventh throughout the MLB in team batting average, fifth in number of runs scored and OBP, the Braves’ batting is joyful. However, their pitching will probably be the thing that lets them down to put them in as serious contenders.
They should not have a problem with Washington, Philadelphia and the Mets 6, 7 and 8.5 games back respectively but their pitching still looks shaky, despite adding to their ranks in the bullpen.
Shane Greene is yet to click under the southern sun of Atlanta, allowing five runs in three games (he had only allowed five in 38 under Detroit). Mark Melancon debuted well but can he remain fit?
Can Mike Foltynewicz get back into the groove after his Triple-A assignment? He held the Minnesota Twins to three runs in his first outing back, so the key is if they can improve their starting rotation (as many of their playoff rivals better them in pitching) as well as the relief.
With so many other teams stronger than them, I won’t be backing them.
National League Central – Chicago Cubs +2100
Out of all the divisions, this is the closest leader race, with St Louis and Milwaukee only 2.5 and 3.0 games behind so is +2100 enough to back a leader who may miss out? Probably not. They’ve just been the best out of an average pack, so if it ends up that the Cardinals or the Brewers lead- it’s probably not worth backing them either unless they are on a red-hot streak.
The Cubs are behind the Chicago White Sox in batting AVG, 14th out of 30 in both that and runs scored. They’re also terrible away from Wrigley Field with a 21-33 record, only the Marlins are worst in National League, and while their pitching is decent, will it be enough to overcome someone like the Dodgers?
Skip the +2100 and place your money elsewhere.
National League West – LA Dodgers +300
The favorites. They’ve been the favorites since the season began and with a 76-40 record that hasn’t changed. They’re 18 games in front, they’ve got the best pitching across the MLB and they’ll win their division for the seventh time in a row. I don’t have to mention why, Hyun-Jin-Ryu has a 1.53 ERA, Clayton Kershaw is at 2.77 and Walker Buehler at 3.22. This is before I get onto their bats and all I have to utter is the name “Cody Bellinger”.
Their team is almost like using a cheat code.
They’ve also dominated the last two NLCS, winning their right to play in the World Series the last two years but that’s where the story ends. For how good they’ve been, how short they are in the betting, there have been no titles to show for it.
Should they face a Houston Astros (again) or a New York Yankees, is +300 worth it? They say third times the charm, but who believes in charms? If you do, take the price.
The Dodgers are definitely the strongest out of all the National League leaders. There’s no debate. The only thing that would thwart them is, again, a team that reaches a red-hot streak by the end of the regular season, or an American League team in the final. And with the Astros now strengthened and showing no signs of slowing down, I’m weary of the +300 around our NL favorites. It’s not the best bang for the buck.
It ultimately boils down to “Do you trust this Dodgers team in a World Series Final, where the deciding game will be hosted at the opposition’s ballpark against the Yankees/Stros/Indians?” and I personally, don’t.
I’ll talk about their main rivals from the AL, and their chances next week.
By Jasmine Baba