The Chicago Cubs have slowly but surely worked their way into the position of favorite to win the National League pennant at around 3-to-1 nearly industry-wide heading into this week.
To be fair, a few books were still holding steady with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the top of their odds boards, but the traffic in the National League West, as well as, the wild, wild NL Wild Card, has to put the blue crew at a disadvantage.
The Cubs are the only NL team to have a manageable division lead, currently ahead of the Cardinals and Brewers, by 4 and 4 1/2 games respectively entering the week. The beloved Cubbies, the most popular of futures tickets, can now be had at odds of 6.5-to-1 to win the World Series.
The current NL West standings have brought some value to co-leaders Arizona and Colorado. The Diamondbacks are a reasonable 6.5-to-1, while the Rockies are a desirable 14-to-1 to win the pennant. One of these two teams will avoid the one-game playoff.
The same holds true in the NL East where the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves, who entered the week tied, are near even-money co-favorites to win the division. The Phillies appear to be the slightest of favorites of the two to win the pennant and World Series, as well, especially with Atlanta’s inconsistent offensive production.
The two tied division races alone contribute two of the four teams involved in the crazy wild-card playoff race that includes St. Louis and Milwaukee. The Dodgers are basically behind six teams after four spots should the Cubs continue their league-leading pace.
Boston is the clear-cut favorite now after a terrific summer, moving to the 3-to-1 choice to win the Commissioner’s Trophy out of the American League where it would seem the five teams are in the driver’s seat for the postseason.
The biggest noise has come out of the AL West where the surprising A’s have moved into a first-place tie with injury-plagued Houston. The Astros’ pitching has kept the team at a crisp pace as a few top stars are on the disabled list, but Oakland’s move has been something to behold.
The Athletics were just 5.5-to-1 to win the division a couple of weeks ago, but have moved closer to 2-1 now with Houston around a two-dollar choice. Oddsmakers have moved relatively quick on Oakland, which is now mostly under 7-1 to win the AL flag and 15-1 to win the Fall Classic. The Yankees and Indians were mostly sharing the same odds at 4-1 to win the pennant and 8-1 to win it all.
Recommended holding: St. Louis to win the World Series (35-1). Cards have been great since the rarely-successful mid-season managerial change.
CARDINALS (EV, 7o20) at DODGERS (Wed., 7:10): Dodgers’ Walker Buehler is in strong form right now with just four earned runs over his last four starts with 29 strikeouts and a 1.78 ERA in home night games. Cards’ Jack Flaherty is impressive, coming off three straight victories and averaging eight strikeouts per game over his last five starts. LAD, 4-3
PHILLIES (-105, 6.5o20) at NATIONALS (Thu., 10): Marquee matinee matchup of Cy Young leaders Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer. Nola is 14-3 for the Phils with a WHIP under 1 after winning his last two, including striking out 11 Mets on Friday afternoon. Scherzer hasn’t been the Nats’ issue, as he’s now rolled up 16 victories with a 0.89 WHIP. PHL, 3-2
PADRES (+150, 10) at ROCKIES (Thu., 12:10): Rockies’ Kyle Freeland has been terrific with his 11 wins and 2.97 ERA with 19 strikeouts over his last two starts. Padres’ Joe Lucchesi has been decent but loses form quickly when opposing hitters start getting to him. He allows the expected Rockies’ bats just under a .200 average. COL, 6-4
ATHLETICS (-170, 8.5o20) at TWINS (Thu., 5:10): Trevor Cahill of the A’s has won four of his last five starts with a WHIP over just over 1, following his terrific performance of seven shutout innings allowing one hit against Houston on Saturday. Twins are getting thin as they have to use rookie Kohl Stewart here, who hasn’t done much so far. OAK, 5-3
PIRATES (+120, 8o20) at BREWERS (Fri., 5:10): Wade Miley has just one win with the Brewers to show for his good performance so far, but he’s still up a couple of units and has just a 2.18 ERA in 45.1 innings. Bucs’ Joe Musgrove is often working a durable seven innings and has allowed just one or two earned runs in four of his last five starts. MIL, 4-3
BRAVES (-170, 8.5u15) at MARLINS (Sat., 4:10): Kevin Gausman has been a great acquisition for Atlanta, having won his two prior starts heading into Monday at Pittsburgh. Miami’s Jose Urena is scheduled to pitch here but a suspension is pending for his beaning incident. He’s down almost 10 units but was awesome at the Nats on Sunday. ATL, 5-3
ASTROS (-150, 8.5) at ANGELS (Sat., 6:10): Houston’s Justin Verlander finally picked up his 200th win on the third try Sunday. Hard to fault his -15 units on the campaign considering his 2.65 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Angels’ Jaime Barria held these Astros to just one hit previously with no walks and six strikeouts and was effective on Sunday at Texas. HOU, 4-3
RED SOX (-108, 7.5u20) at RAYS (Sun., 10:10): Former Ray Nathan Eovaldi faces his ex-team, as he’s been pretty good since joining Boston except for a rough patch against the O’s. Blake Snell has seen plenty of the Red Sox bats, holding them to just over a .200 average, and he’s been awesome with a 6-1 record and 0.97 ERA at home. BOS, 3-2
MARINERS (+150, 8o15) at DIAMONDBACKS (Sun., 1:10): Surely no panic in Zack Greinke losing streak, which he snapped Sunday at weak-hitting Padres. He has allowed more than two earned runs in just one start over the last two-plus months. Mike Leake is coming off Tuesday’s start against the Astros and hadn’t won in two months prior to that. ARI, 4-3
YANKEES (-200, 10) at ORIOLES (Sun., 5): Masahiro Tanaka is solid enough to get through this outing as he continues to round into form off his injury. He’s held this O’s lineup under .200 in well over 100 PAs. The Orioles’ Andrew Cashner is very inconsistent but has turned in a quality start in three of his last four appearances into Monday start at Toronto. NYY, 7-3