MLB schedule provides opportunity to size up pennant races

July 20, 2019 07:40 PM

Baseball bettors will get a great chance to evaluate and handicap 2019 league pennant chases the next few days as playoff contenders are going head-to-head.

We start in the National League with Washington visiting Atlanta on Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET). Monday, we’ll focus on the American League to complement likely postseason intensity in the New York Yankees-Minnesota, Boston-Tampa Bay and Oakland-Houston matchups.

Though Washington and Atlanta are very much in the championship picture (both sitting in the top five of William Hill’s current N.L. futures odds), it’s the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers who are still pick-em vs. the field. 

L.A. Dodgers 11/10 (52% win equivalent)

No sign yet that this juggernaut will derail. There are occasional lemons, like a blowout loss in Boston and a couple bullpen meltdowns at Philadelphia. But, those stick out like a sore thumb because the Dodgers keep manhandling most opponents. They’re extremely likely to own home field advantage through the N.L. brackets. Oddsmakers have been pricing the Dodgers as world championship material all season. 

Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves each 5/1 (each 17%)

Atlanta may have the better record in the standings, but there’s still a significant portion of the betting market that Chicago will close as the more impressive side. Atlanta has more cushion for avoiding a wildcard. In Chicago’s tough division, true odds to reach the World Series are very likely higher than 5/1 given various hurdles.  

Milwaukee 15/2 (12%)

Another team sharps keep waiting on…one that might not even make the playoffs if it doesn’t find an extra gear soon. 

Washington 10/1 (9%)

VSiN recently talked about Washington’s surge into the spotlight after a slow start. This ongoing Atlanta series will tell bettors a lot more about true postseason hopes than that hot run against stragglers did. Playing in a weak division will help wildcard math…which the market is already pricing in. 

St. Louis 11/1 (8%)

Also on the list of midseason mediocrities who are capable of catching fire. The Cards are arguably better suited than Milwaukee to make a run…given mid-season run differential and pitching stats. If you sense a hot spell, better to attack that day-by-day than take a flyer at this price. 

Philadelphia 17/1 (6%)

Very tough to take the Phillies seriously given their won-lost record in recent weeks when not playing the New York Mets. Basically a .500 team overall since the end of April, .460 when not facing the Mets. Maybe this week’s dramatic rallies vs. the Dodgers will inspire a surge.

Don’t forget that sports books build a universe larger than 100% to create a house edge. Those seven teams already add up to 121% with rounding. A handful of other teams are still within arm’s reach of a Wildcard.

Futures prices may not offer a smart bet, but they are a helpful way to visualize informed expectations.

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