NL Central Odds: Can the Brewers Hold Off Chicago and Company?

Gabriel Santiago
Gabriel Santiago@gps_onthemic
NL Central Odds: Can the Brewers Hold Off Chicago and Company?

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

As of now, only eight games separate first and last place here. Naturally, by this point, there are just under 100 games left to play in the 2024 regular season.

With markets shifting every day, let's dive into divisional betting, highlighting each NL Central organization's case.

All MLB odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

2024 NL Central Odds

Record (entering June 14th)
Milwaukee Brewers40-28-190
Chicago Cubs33-36+490
St. Louis Cardinals33-34+650
Cincinnati Reds33-35+850
Pittsburgh Pirates32-36+2100

Milwaukee Brewers (-190)

FanDuel's NL Central odds are quite keen on the Milwaukee Brewers (40-28), listing them as a -190 favorite here. Strangely enough, Milwaukee holds a 6.5-game lead while the rest of the division is within just 1.5 games of each other.

In 2024, the Brewers' +61 run differential is third-best on the Senior Circuit. Simultaneously, they are one of just two NL Central teams with positive differentials. Of course, much of that is due to Milwaukee's booming offense, which has provided a .736 team OPS (6th in MLB).

Presently, the Brew Crew is the only squad within the division that is above .500. Still, given the remaining schedule, the other four franchises are still well within striking distance.

Chicago Cubs (+490)

Like most teams here, the Chicago Cubs (33-36) have been hot and cold in 2024. Despite boasting some impressive names in their batting lineup, it has been the pitching that has performed more consistently.

To this point in the year, Chicago's NL club has produced a collective 3.81 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), which lands within the better half of the Majors. Additionally, Cubs pitching has churned out a whopping 9.0 K/9.

The Cubbies have dealt with myriad injuries this season, and seemingly, their offense has paid the price. As of Thursday, Chicago's .684 OPS ranks 19th in MLB.

However, that clip is still good enough for second-best in the division -- perhaps the Cubs can lead a charge over July and August.

St. Louis Cardinals (+650)

As the most decorated team in this division, the St. Louis Cardinals (33-34) have been in a funk over the past two campaigns. In 2023, they uncharacteristically finished in the NL Central's cellar.

Back in the here and now, St. Louis has essentially strung together two and a half months of .500 baseball. Still, they are currently alone in second place in the NL Central.

Largely, the Cards have been the best pitching side in the division. After their win on Thursday, STL shows an impressive 3.71 team SIERA. That is quality consistency.

Given St. Louis' +650 odds to win the division, the Red Birds might be worth a second look here.

Cincinnati Reds (+850)

The Cincinnati Reds (33-35) are one of the most erratic teams in baseball. They went 14-13 in April before producing dismal results in May (losing twice as many games as they won). Of course, since June has started, Cincinnati has gone 8-3.

A youthful team, the Reds play with aggressiveness and risk. Cincy's 98 stolen bases (on an 80.99% success rate) ranks second in MLB. According to FanGraphs, the Reds' 5.9 Speed Score is tied for tops in the Majors.

Of course, speed cannot be fully utilized if there is no offense to move the lineup along. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, they have earned the National League's lowest collective batting average at .226.

numberFire has the Reds (0.12 nERD) rated as the second-best team in this division and with 17.9% division win odds -- that presents some value on their +850 odds here.

Pittsburgh Pirates (+2100)

The Pittsburgh Pirates (32-36) are alone in the NL Central's cellar after Thursday afternoon's loss in St. Louis. Currently, FanDuel Sportsbook gives Pittsburgh 21-to-1 odds to come back for the division title.

Since joining the group in 1994, the Pirates have never won the NL Central. Transparently, the team has shown no signs of changing that, as Pittsburgh owns the lowest OPS (.657) on the Senior Circuit. From there, they have scored just 4.05 runs per game.

Around the MLB, every other last place team has odds of 310-to-1 or greater -- can the Buccos heat up through the dog days of summer?

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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.