NL Central Betting: Brewers Are the Odds-On Favorite

Gabriel Santiago
Gabriel Santiago@gps_onthemic
NL Central Betting: Brewers Are the Odds-On Favorite

As we have just crossed into the month of June, baseball action across the country -- like the weather -- is beginning to heat up.

Naturally, MLB consists of two leagues with three divisions each. Between all six of those groupings, the National League Central is currently the most condensed -- the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook reflect exactly that.

On Monday (June 3rd), just 10 games separate first and last place in the NL Central. The Milwaukee Brewers -- who ran away with the division in 2023 -- are back in first as we cross over the one-third tentpole of the regular season. Thanks to a slow start by the St. Louis Cardinals and poor recent play from the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee is beginning to separate from the pack.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds round out the divisional standings here, but both squads have been competitive. Being that there are approximately 100 games left to play for most teams, no one here is out of the hunt yet.

Let's dive into the NL Central odds, highlighting each teams' respective strengths and weaknesses.

All MLB odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

2024 NL Central Odds

Record (entering June 3rd)
Milwaukee Brewers36-23-160
St. Louis Cardinals28-29+350
Chicago Cubs29-31+450
Cincinnati Reds26-33+1500
Pittsburgh Pirates27-32+3000

Milwaukee Brewers (-160)

As alluded to, the Brewers are on the cusp of winning back-to-back division titles for first the time since crossing into the National League. Milwaukee is 59 games into 2024 (with a seven-game lead), and at this time, FanDuel Sportsbook gives them short -160 odds to win the NL Central -- that carries a 61.5% implied probability.

The Brew Crew are currently operating with a top offense. Right now, they own a .752 team OPS, which is the second-best mark on the Senior Circuit. William Contreras and Willy Adames have been solid contributors, but now that Christian Yelich has returned from injury, we are seeing this lineup hum.

Collectively, Milwaukee has been middle of the pack when it comes to pitching. Entering Monday, the Brewers are tagged with a 3.88 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA). That equates to 17th-best in MLB. However, as a team, numberFire has Milwaukee (0.97 nERD) ranked sixth overall in the Majors.

St. Louis Cardinals (+350)

St. Louis -- who finished dead last in the NL Central a year ago -- has essentially strung together .500 baseball throughout the current campaign. Still, it should be noted that the Cardinals have recently improved on offense after a horrid start.

The Cards have notably struggled at the plate in 2024, yielding a meek .675 team OPS. Be that as it may, St. Louis has plated 4.94 runs per game since May 12th. Conversely, the Red Birds' 3.75 SIERA is the top pitching clip in the division.

Overall, the Cardinals (-0.38 nERD) are viewed quite poorly on numberFire's MLB power rankings, showing up 24th of 30. However, St. Louie has the second-shortest divisional odds (+350) within the NL Central. Historically, they are a brand of consistent excellence; no franchise is ahead of the Cards' 12 titles in this grouping, but STL has a tall task ahead here.

Chicago Cubs (+450)

The Cubs had lofty expectations upon entering 2024, but the wheels have begun to wobble over the past two weeks. Since May 21st, Chicago has played to a dismal 2-9 record. As such, they are currently 7.5 games behind Milwaukee in the divisional standings.

Interestingly, the Cubbies have drawn the largest handle within FanDuel Sportsbook's NL Central betting market. That makes sense when you consider Chicago's .630 winning percentage in April. Unfortunately, May was not nearly as kind to the Cubs wherein they displayed a -25 run differential.

Chicago's N.L. franchise is presently tagged with +450 odds to win the division. Throughout the year, they've been rocked by myriad injuries, but the Cubs have seen most stars return to the lineup. If sluggers Seiya Suzuki, Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson can heat up simultaneously, the Cubbies will be dangerous down the stretch.

Cincinnati Reds (+1500)

Cincinnati may find themselves in the NL Central's cellar upon entering June, but their 15-to-1 odds right now are -- by far -- the shortest divisional listing for any last-place squad. At the moment, the Reds are trailing the Brew Crew by an even 10 games.

Perhaps more than any franchise in 2024, Cincy has displayed the good, the bad and the ugly. They have several talented youngsters in Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain and TJ Friedl, but the latter two have missed significant time with upper-body injuries.

The Reds have compiled 88 stolen bases this season. Notably, that is the second-highest team total in the majors. Still, it hasn't exactly translated to winning results. Perhaps that is due to struggling pitching. To this point, Cincinnati holds a 3.92 team SIERA, which is the worst mark in the division.

Pittsburgh Pirates (+3000)

The Pirates are currently in fourth place, but they are viewed as FanDuel's market long shot at 30-to-1 odds. Pittsburgh finds itself nine games behind the Brewers. However, this group from the Three Rivers has proven to be streaky.

Arguably, Pittsburgh has the division's worst offense. As a team, the Buccos have produced a .658 OPS. From there, they've scored just 4.05 runs per game -- maybe these are factors into why the Pirates own the worst home record (12-15) of any NL Central team in 2024.

According to the power rankings at numberFire, Pittsburgh (-0.32 nERD) is positioned 21st in MLB. Comparatively, that lands them second-to-last within their grouping (ahead of only St. Louis). Either way, the experts and sportsbooks are not expecting much from the Pirates. Still, the five other longshot teams have much greater than +3000 odds in the divisional market.

Looking for more MLB betting opportunities? Check out all of the MLB odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.