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

The Braves were favored to win the NL East 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: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves outfielder Abraham Almonte and first baseman Freddie Freeman celebrate after scoring runs on a double hit by second baseman Ozzie Albies during the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Truist Park. 
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The National League East was expected to be the most competitive division in the game entering the season, and that has panned out. Everyone is separated by fewer than seven games; every other division has at least one team trailing by double-digit games. And looking at the DraftKings Sportsbook odds for this division, there is at least one value play that stands out. Let’s examine those odds and figure out where is the best place to put your money.

  1. New York Mets (27-22) —
  2. Atlanta Braves (26-28) 3.5 GB
  3. Philadelphia Phillies (26-29) 4.0 GB
  4. Miami Marlins (24-31) 6.0 GB
  5. Washington Nationals (23-30) 6.0 GB

Analysis: I was fairly optimistic about the Nationals (+2200) in the preseason, but two months in, it’s difficult to keep that positivity. The rotation is very spotty behind Max Scherzer and there are too many easy outs in the lineup past Trea Turner and Juan Soto. You could say the same thing about Miami’s lineup, but the rotation trio of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and NL Rookie of the Year candidate Trevor Rogers has been outstanding. They are at +1800 after sitting at +5000 at the beginning of May. The Phillies (+1100) are going in the opposite direction; they were listed at +450 on May 1. The bullpen, once again, has been a problem area.

The two most intriguing teams for betting purposes are the top two: the Mets (-225) and the Braves (+280). New York has opened up a four-game lead despite dealing with an incredible amount of injuries, Fransisco Lindor’s extraordinarily slow start and still not giving Jacob deGrom much run support. It stands to reason that as the Mets heal, their offense will pick up and fall in line with their pitching staff, which has been generally great.

However, the Braves have too much talent to be disregarded. That lineup remains loaded, especially as Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson heat up. The starting rotation, while wounded, is solid with Max Fried, Ian Anderson and Charlie Morton. I’m interested to see how recent free-agent addition Shane Greene will help this bullpen.

Betting value: It’s way too early to call this race and I think it’ll end up much closer than the current odds suggest. I would be all over the Braves at their current price. That looks like one of the best value bets on the entire division board.

Odds to win NL East

Team Opening Odds April 1st May 1st June 1st
Team Opening Odds April 1st May 1st June 1st
NY Mets +250 +140 +110 -225
ATL Braves +125 +120 +150 +280
PHI Phillies +850 +875 +450 +1100
MIA Marlins +750 +2500 +5000 +1800
WAS Nationals +475 +600 +1600 +2200

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