At this point in the year all 15 members of the National League have completed at least 30 games, putting almost one-fifth of the regular season in the books.
Accordingly, the NL pennant race has been clarified by fast starts and faceplants. Six clubs have staked themselves to an inside track, while the rest of the NL has fallen flat to begin the summer.
At the moment, online sportsbook Bovada is playing things close to the vest, installing the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs (+200) as the clear favorites.
The Cubbies haven’t lived up to their curse-busting run of 2016 – compiling a middling 17-17 record to find themselves in fourth place in the NL Central – but Bovada likes Chicago to rebound while riding horses like Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, and Kyle Hendricks back to the promised land.
They’ve only dug a hole of 2.5 games thus far, so it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Cubs reclaim the Central lead by the All-Star break, or even before. That seems to be Bovada’s guess too, as the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals (+700) offer pennant odds that are 3.5 times worse.
The Washington Nationals (+350) appear chosen to challenge Chicago for the pennant, and with a 22-12 record, their 5.5-game lead in the NL East puts them on the fast track to the postseason.
The only other team in the East capable of making it a race would be the New York Mets (+1000), but while Bovada still likes their chances, a 16-17 record and constant team turmoil suggest that the Nats’ path to a division title will be unimpeded this year.
The division race in the NL West is a bit more heated, with the upstart Colorado Rockies (+900) sitting 2.5 games up on the Los Angeles Dodgers (+450). Once again though, Bovada doesn’t seem to believe in the sustainability of hot starts, giving the Rockies and their NL-leading 23-13 record doubled pennant odds compared to the 20-15 Dodgers.
The only other team pegged at better than 28 to 1 is the Arizona Diamondbacks (+1600). Coming off a disappointing 2016 campaign which saw the Snakes finish 69-93, Arizona has been buoyed by a managerial change – with Red Sox alum Torey Lovullo taking the reigns – while the return of All-Star centerfielder A.J. Pollock has solidified the lineup.
From there, Bovada’s current assessment of the NL is of a league in shambles.
Playoff teams from last year like the San Francisco Giants (+3300) and the aforementioned Mets have sorely disappointed.
In fact, the Giants have posted the worst winning percentage in all of baseball at 12-24 for a .333 clip. Bettors in search of a viable longshot may consider the boys from the Bay, however, as the return of ace Madison Bumgarner from a freak dirt bike injury, coupled with manager Bruce Bochy’s steady presence, could foretell a second-half surge.
And on the other side of the spectrum, Bovada has already virtually written off four teams, with the Milwaukee Brewers (+10000), Philadelphia Phillies (+15000), San Diego Padres (+15000), and Atlanta Braves (+15000) all offering 100-1 odds or worse.
As such, the lineup of pennant contenders has been thinned out, leaving only five teams with better than 10 to 1 odds of winning the NL.
2017 National League Pennant Odds
|Team||NL Pennant Odds on 5/12|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+450|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+700|
|San Francisco Giants||+3300|
|San Diego Padres||+15000|