Posted on: August 18, 2023, 10:34h.
Last updated on: August 18, 2023, 10:34h.
In the race for the NL Central division title and a spot in the playoffs, the top three teams are separated by just two games. The Milwaukee Brewers (65-57) currently have a two-game lead over the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. With less than a quarter of the regular season remaining, the competition is heating up.
According to DraftKings’ MLB futures board, the Milwaukee Brewers are the favorites to win the NL Central with -155 odds. The Chicago Cubs are second on the board with +180 odds, followed by the Cincinnati Reds at +500.
In addition to the division title, a trip to the National League Wild Card round is also up for grabs. The team that finishes in second place in the NL Central could potentially secure a Wild Card spot.
As of now, if the season were to end, the Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, and Chicago Cubs would qualify for the NL Wild Card. However, the Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds, and Arizona Diamondbacks are just one game behind and in contention for a playoff spot.
If things go a certain way, it’s even possible for three teams from the NL Central to make it to the playoffs, with two teams securing Wild Card berths.
Despite winning the NL Central last season, the St. Louis Cardinals are currently in last place with a disappointing 54-68 record.
Brewers Aim for Third Division Title Since 2018
The Milwaukee Brewers recently saw their division lead narrow to two games after being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers. They will wrap up a nine-game road trip this weekend with a matchup against the Texas Rangers, who are currently leading the AL West.
Although the Brewers have lost 15 games since the All-Star break, including matches against top teams like the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, they remain hopeful. Their upcoming five-game homestand will be followed by a crucial three-game series against the Cubs to close out August.
While the Brewers lack starting pitchers with double-digit victories, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralt each have nine wins to contribute to the team’s success. Additionally, Christian Yelich has been performing exceptionally well this season, with 16 home runs, 66 RBI, and a slash line of .286/.372/.456.
The Brewers have a strong projection of winning the NL Central, with FanGraphs giving them a 59.7% chance. They also have a 73.6% chance of making it to the playoffs, although their odds of winning the World Series are 3.1%.
According to DraftKings, the Brewers are favored to advance to the playoffs with -300 odds, but there’s also a chance they could miss the postseason with +250 odds.
On the MLB futures board, the Brewers hold the tenth overall position in odds to win the 2023 World Series, with +2800 odds. They are also considered contenders with +1200 odds to win their first NL pennant.
Cubs Making a Run
The Chicago Cubs have picked up their pace just in time. After starting the second half of the season six games under .500, they have gone 20-10 since mid-July to boost their chances of securing a playoff spot.
In his first season with the Cubs, outfielder Cody Bellinger has proven to be a valuable addition to the team. He currently boasts an impressive slash line of .327/.379/.554 and has stolen a career-best 17 bases. With 18 home runs and 59 RBI, he’s on track to exceed last season’s numbers.
Left-handed pitcher Justin Steele has emerged as a key player for the Cubs, holding a 13-3 record with a 2.79 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. The Cubs have won his last five starts, contributing to their recent success. In fact, they are 10-1 in their last 11 starts.
According to FanGraphs, the Cubs have a 29.6% chance to clinch the NL Central and a 53% chance to make it to the playoffs. However, their odds of winning the World Series stand at just 1.2%.
While DraftKings gives them -130 odds to make the playoffs, they also have +110 odds of missing the postseason.
The Cubs’ historic victory in the 2016 NL pennant, which ended a 108-year championship drought, still serves as inspiration. However, their odds to win the NL pennant in 2023 are +2000, and their chances of winning the World Series stand at +5000.
The Cubs have six more games scheduled against the Brewers, including a potentially decisive three-game series in Milwaukee to close out the season. They will also face the Reds in a four-game road series over the Labor Day weekend.
Due to rainouts and rescheduled games, the Cubs have 42 games remaining on their schedule, while both the Reds and Brewers have 40 games left.
Reds Seek First NL Central Title Since 2012
The Cincinnati Reds surprised the National League in the first half of the season, taking the lead in the Central Division with a 12-game winning streak in June.
Rookie left-handed pitcher Andrew Abbott made an impressive MLB debut, not allowing an earned run until his fourth start. Since his promotion from Triple-A in June, Abbott has played a crucial role for the Reds. They have won six of his first six starts, with the rookie holding a 4-0 record and two no-decisions. In a total of 14 starts, Abbott boasts an 8-3 record with a 2.99 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
Although the Reds have struggled in August, losing 10 out of their last 14 games, they remain hopeful. They have performed better on the road (33-27) than at home (30-32), which could work in their favor during their upcoming 10-game road stretch.
The Reds do not have any more games scheduled against the Brewers, but they will face the Cubs in just four more games.
As per FanGraphs’ latest postseason projection, the Reds have a 10.7% chance to win the NL Central and a 22.7% chance to secure a playoff spot. However, their odds of winning the World Series currently stand at 0.5%.
According to DraftKings, the Reds are favored to make the playoffs with +160 odds, but they are considered underdogs with -190 odds to miss the postseason.
The last time the Reds won the NL pennant was 33 years ago in 1990 when they also claimed the World Series title. Since the mid-1970s Big Red Machine era, they have been chasing their next championship. Currently, their odds to win the NL pennant are +1600, with their chances of winning the World Series at +7000.