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Odds to Win the NL Central: Cards, Reds Sit As Preseason Co-Faves

NL Central Betting Odds

With MLB set to return to the diamond before the end of the month, the National League Central Division could see another exciting climax in 2020. Four of the five teams are expected to compete for the World Series, with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds tabbed as co-favorites to take the divisional crown.

The Cardinals and Reds are each listed at +250 to win the NL Central according to the best baseball betting sites but that’s only a slight odds edge over the Chicago Cubs (+275) and Milwaukee Brewers (+300). The absence of a true odds-on favorite suggests every game will be crucial to the division standings.

Since teams will play only 60 regular-season games in 2020, you may need to alter your betting approach and Joe Osborne has some great tips for betting a shortened MLB season.

Before you read some betting analysis on each NL Central team and how they could win the division, here are some key links to bookmark for your baseball betting:

MLB Futures MLB Win Totals | Odds To Make Playoffs | MVP Odds | Cy Young Odds | How To Bet On Baseball

Odds to win the 2020 National League Central
St. Louis Cardinals+250
Cincinnati Reds+250
Chicago Cubs+275
Milwaukee Brewers+300
Pittsburgh Pirates+6000

Odds as of July 14 at Bovada

St. Louis Cardinals (+250)

If you read my NL Central preview last year and tailed my pick, you would have cashed in on the Cardinals at +215 (humble brag). This team is built to be a World Series contender with a reliable rotation and bullpen, as well as a solid 1-9 batting lineup. St. Louis had the fourth-best run differential in the NL last season en route to a 91-71 campaign that ended in a four-game sweep at the hands of the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals in the NLCS.

The club did lose starting pitcher Michael Wacha, who had an off-year in 2019, and left-fielder Marcell Ozuna, who slugged 29 homers. Despite the losses, this team is dangerous and worthy of being the preseason co-favorite.

St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total

Odds as of July 14 at Bovada

Cincinnati Reds (+250)

The most improved award goes to the former laughingstock of the division, the Cincinnati Reds, who made wholesale changes to the rotation and the batting lineup. Starter Wade Miley was brought in to join Trevor Bauer, acquired late last season from Cleveland, while on the batting side, sluggers Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos were signed via free agency.

Additionally, there should be some excitement around former Japanese Baseball League all-star Shogo Akiyama, who has tremendous speed and developed power over the last few years and draws comparisons to New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner.

Clearly this team will take a step forward from the losing season it put together last year, but I don’t agree with the odds and I think it’s a bit of a long shot to say the Reds will battle for the NL Central crown.

Cincinnati Reds 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total

Odds as of July 14 at Bovada

Chicago Cubs (+275)

A team I would personally avoid in 2020 is the Chicago Cubs, who finished third in the NL Central in 2019 with an 84-78 slate. The team is basically the same this season, just one year older. The rotation was rather inconsistent last year, with flashes of brilliance followed by dismal performances.

The bread and butter for this team is its batting lineup led by all-stars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, but there could be a new name in the mix in second baseman Nico Hoerner, a 2018 first-round draft pick. This team will be competitive but I don’t include them at the same level as Milwaukee and St. Louis.

Chicago Cubs 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total

Odds as of July 14 at Bovada

Milwaukee Brewers (+300)

The Brewers would be my value pick in the NL Central. This club was a wild-card team last year, falling 4-3 to the Nationals in the wild-card game – boy, did the Nats ever do a number on the NL Central. Milwaukee was able to make it to the playoffs after many, myself included, wrote the team off once 2018 MVP and 2019 runner-up Christian Yelich suffered a broken kneecap in early September that ended his season.

The team brought in some pitching depth in lefties Eric Lauer and Brett Anderson who will hold down the fort until the elite bullpen takes over. Assuming all is good with Yelich, this team is providing good value to win the NL Central.

Milwaukee Brewers 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total

Odds as of July 14 at Bovada

Pittsburgh Pirates (+6000)

Sporting the worst record in the division last year and the fifth-worst record in baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates face an uphill battle in 2020. The team essentially remains the same as last year’s with no major changes through the lineup.

The Pirates were hoping SP Chris Archer could regain the form he had with Tampa Bay to help bolster the rotation but he’s out for the season with a shoulder injury. That means Chad Kuhl or Steven Brault could fill the fifth starter slot or 2014 second-rounder Mitch Keller may develop into the pitcher they hoped he would be. If not, this team could have a worse record this year and will once again be a basement-dweller in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total

Odds as of July 14 at Bovada

Understanding NL Central Odds

If you’re betting on Major League Baseball and you decide to wager on the National League Central odds, you would see odds listed like this at your sportsbook:

  • St. Louis Cardinals +250
  • Cincinnati Reds +250
  • Chicago Cubs +275
  • Milwaukee Brewers +300
  • Pittsburgh Pirates +6000

Since you’re betting on events that will happen in the near future, this is called a Futures Bet. This type of wager is also similar to a moneyline bet but the clear favorites don’t have the minus odds symbol (-). That means the team with the lowest number (St. Louis and Cincinnati) are considered the favorites while the rest of the teams are considered underdogs.

If you were to bet $100 on the Cardinals at the beginning of the season and they win the NL Central Division, you’d get a payout of $350 – your original $100 is returned, along with your winnings of $250. On the other hand, if you wagered that same $100 on the Brewers and they win the division,  you’d get a payout of $400 – you get your $100 back, plus your profit of $300.

Our Odds Calculator can help you determine how much you’d pocket depending on the odds and the amount bet.