NL Central Odds: Cubs Lead a Narrow Betting Market

Gabriel Santiago
Gabriel Santiago@gps_onthemic
NL Central Odds: Cubs Lead a Narrow Betting Market

Amongst Major League Baseball's divisions, the National League Central could offer the closest race by this season's end.

The NL Central odds currently have the Chicago Cubs listed as short favorites. Still, in early May, it is technically the Milwaukee Brewers atop the division standings. From there, the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are all in the mix.

At this point, there's approximately 125 contests left in the regular season. Additionally, less than six games separate first and last place in this grouping.

Let's check in on FanDuel Sportsbook's NL Central betting market and see how it relates to the current divisional landscape.

All MLB odds from FanDuel Sportsbook and may change after this article is published.

NL Central Odds

Record (entering May 7th)
Chicago Cubs21-15+145
Milwaukee Brewers20-14+210
St. Louis Cardinals15-20+450
Cincinnati Reds16-18+500
Pittsburgh Pirates17-19+1800

Chicago Cubs (+145)

The Cubbies have not won their division since the COVID-abbreviated season of 2020, but they now are priced with +145 odds to do exactly that in 2024. Considering Chicago is in a near-tie for first place with more than 75% of the schedule remaining, this label is quite short.

Undeniably, CHC is off to a solid start this year. They've won 21 games by the first week of May. At numberFire, the Cubs (0.49 nERD) are placed 15th on their power rankings, which lands them second amongst the NL Central.

Dealing with myriad injuries, Chicago has not been at top form in almost a month. Surely, the team will receive a boost when stars like Seiya Suzuki (oblique) and Cody Bellinger (ribs) return to action. For the interim, Mike Tauchman and Michael Busch will need to shoulder the load.

Milwaukee Brewers (+210)

As the 2023 winner here, Milwaukee began Tuesday mathematically in first place of their grouping. The Brew Crew has won three division titles over the past six years. Still, they have never earned the NL Central crown in back-to-back seasons.

Currently, the Brewers boast a .738 team OPS, which is a top-five figure. Additionally, Milwaukee carries an impressive .330 wOBA. Simply, they are the best offensive side in the division.

Back at numberFire's MLB power rankings, the Brewers (0.79 nERD) show up ninth in MLB and first in the NL Central. However, like their rivals from just down I-94, Milwaukee is not at full strength, either. Slugging lefty and former NL MVP Christian Yelich (back) has been out since early April.

The Brewers show +210 odds to take the division for a second straight campaign, but their pitching has not been sharp in 2024. So far, MIL has earned a 4.08 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), which is the third-worst clip in the National League.

St. Louis Cardinals (+450)

In the opposite vein as Milwaukee, the Cardinals have been the NL Central's top pitching side this season. Entering May 7th, St. Louis is tagged with a 3.69 SIERA (ninth in MLB), but that hasn't exactly translated to winning results.

Notably, the Red Birds have been inefficient at the plate in 2024. STL has scored just 121 total runs so far, which is approximately 3.46 runs per game. As it stands now, that is the lowest rate on the Senior Circuit.

In 2023, the Cards -- who have won more NL Central titles than any other franchise -- finished dead last in the division, which is exactly where they sit now. Be that as it may, there is ample time left this season for St. Louis to right the ship.

Outside of catcher Willson Contreras (.932 OPS), the Cardinals are not taking too many good at-bats. If they are to come for the divisional crown, St. Louie will need improved hitting from corner infielders Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt.

Cincinnati Reds (+500)

The Reds are an interesting case in the 2024 NL Central betting landscape. Right now, they are a couple notches below .500, which has them just four games out of first place. From there, FanDuel Sportsbook gives Cincinnati five-to-one odds to win the division.

Of course, Cincy has not cashed this market in over a decade, last taking the NL Central in 2012. Presently, the Reds have a few rising stars, such as Jonathan India, Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain. Still, McLain (shoulder) and TJ Friedl (wrist) have not played any MLB games in 2024; both are working back from significant injuries.

Cincinnati is riding a five-game losing streak entering Tuesday -- one that has caused them to plummet in the divisional standings. Still, can this group look any better once reinforcements arrive? They are an explosive bunch, and playing home games at the Great American Ball Park will showcase that. The Reds' home stadium has a 104 Park Factor score, per Baseball Savant.

Pittsburgh Pirates (+1800)

Despite winning 9 of 11 contests to open 2024, Pittsburgh is not receiving much respect in terms of future betting. Pertaining to the NL Central, the Pirates show 18-to-1 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. At the same, those are the shortest odds for any bottom team across all six divisional markets.

Upon authorship, the Buccos are actually not in last place of the NL Central, but in third. They would likely be higher in the standings, but after their hot start, the Pirates have lost five straight games and six straight games at separate points on the schedule. Since April 16th, Pittsburgh has struggled to a 6-14 record.

Similar to St. Louis, the Pirates are not displaying competitive results in the batter's box. Pittsburgh is tagged with a lowly .640 team OPS right now, which is fourth lowest in the majors. They've shown respectable pitching, boasting a 3.76 SIERA. Still, is that strong enough to bring "the Burgh" its first ever NL Central title?

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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.