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The Chicago Cubs have done nothing to disabuse baseball pundits from thinking they are a strong bet to go the World Series, but the Washington Nationals are creating some competition at the top of the odds to win the National League Pennant at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Cubs, under manager Joe Maddon, have started fast in the NL Central and have top odds to win the pennant at +240. In mid-March, they were a +225 preseason favorite.
Chicago has the best run differential in all of Major League Baseball, and look to have a strong all-around team. Reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, along with fellow right-handed starters Jason Hammel and John Lackey and left-hander Jon Lester, look like they will be a formidable starting rotation.
The Cubs suffered a bad break when outfielder Kyle Schwarber suffered a season-ending knee injury on April 7, but first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been a RBI machine and centerfielder Dexter Fowler has been an on-base machine.
Reigning unanimous NL MVP Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals are now listed at +400 on those baseball betting futures, up from +650 during spring training. Harper is off to an impressive start where his ratio of home runs to strikeouts has been practically dead even.
It’s early yet, of course, and several teams are pennant possibilities. Out in the NL West, the San Francisco Giants are listed at +600, while the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers are listed at +650, both slightly higher than their placings on the futures board before the season started.
Each team has an enviable pitching staff with aces such as the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. The Giants are currently without closer Sergio Romo due to an elbow injury, which could affect their bullpen’s effectiveness.
The New York Mets, of course, won the pennant last season and are now listed at +700. Power pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who has elicited comparisons to legendary fastballer Nolan Ryan, has started very well. The Mets have had an encouraging start from veteran third baseman David Wright, who has battled health problems in recent seasons, and also haven’t had much contribution from star right-handers Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey.
The St. Louis Cardinals always have to be taken into consideration. St. Louis has +850 odds to win the NL Pennant, as it has the task of either trying to top the Cubs in the NL Central standings, or get into the NLDS by winning the one-game wild card series.