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Updated look at NL Central standings, best value bet to win based on odds movement

The Reds were favored to win the NL Central entering the season, but how have the odds changed two months into 2021? We break down the movement and identify the best value bets.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants
Chicago Cubs right fielder Kris Bryant runs after a hit for a double against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Oracle Park.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Early-season success has the Cubs in a bit of a dilemma. Strapped with a few high-profile impending free agents, they were expected to be sellers at this year’s Trade Deadline. But they have been on fire since the middle of May, winning 15 of their past 20 games, and have taken over control of the National League Central. Should you bet on them to stay in front of the division or is there a better value pick beneath them? Let’s examine the NL Central odds on DraftKings Sportsbook and figure out where is the best place to put your money.

  1. Chicago Cubs (33-26) —
  2. Milwaukee Brewers (33-26) —
  3. St. Louis Cardinals (31-29) 2.5 GB
  4. Cincinnati Reds (28-29) 4.0 GB
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates (23-35) 9.5 GB

Analysis: The Reds would be worth some consideration if their bullpen wasn’t such a tire fire. The Brewers’ line movement is interesting — +250 on Opening Day and down to +130 now, the second-smallest odds in the division. Their starting pitching is fabulous, headed by the Killer B’s of Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes. The bullpen remains stellar, but their offense is a huge issue right now and it will remain one for as long as Christian Yelich is a singles hitter. I want no part of that line.

The Cardinals, not the Cubs, have the current smallest odds here at +115. I get that, but I’d like to see how ace Jack Flaherty returns from his oblique injury. Plus, closer Alex Reyes is playing with fire with all of the walks he has permitted. Meanwhile, Chicago is +500. That is a significant improvement from where they were a month ago (+1100), but it doesn’t seem low enough. The line-setters must believe that Cubs will still sell by the end of next month. Maybe so, but if they remain this good into July, are the Cubs really going to punt a possible division title? Kris Bryant looks like an MVP again. Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo have both improved greatly compared to 2020. And, oh my god, this bullpen! The Cubs’ relief corps has been nearly untouchable for the past few weeks, led by another player who looks to have regained his old form, Craig Kimbrel.

Betting value: Maybe the Cubs will sell off their attractive parts. But I would gobble up shares of them at this price and hope they can keep it rolling. I think they will be able to, at least offensively.

Odds to win NL Central

Team Opening Odds April 1st May 1st June 1st
Team Opening Odds April 1st May 1st June 1st
STL Cardinals +250 +105 +160 +115
MIL Brewers +300 +250 +100 +130
CHI Cubs +280 +440 +1100 +500
CIN Reds +240 +350 +550 +1400
PIT Pirates +5000 +6500 +10000 +30000


Betting value:

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