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Nationals Still Have Top Odds To Win NL East

Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals laughs with Kurt Suzuki of the Atlanta Braves after falling down during an at bat

The Washington Nationals opened the season toiling in mediocrity and though a recent stretch has helped the team climb up the standings, they still sit second in the National League East. Despite sitting behind the Atlanta Braves and just 1.5 games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies, the Nationals are still -220 to win the division.

NL East Favorites: Washington Nationals

The Nationals own one of the best pitching staffs in the MLB. Max Scherzer is the likely NL Cy Young winner at the quarter mark of the season, both Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are dealing, plus journeyman Jeremy Hellickson is pitching the best baseball of his life. That clearly gives the Nationals a massive edge over the rest of the NL East – with both the Braves and Phillies sporting younger, unproven rotations.

Washington’s issues this season stem from an offense that ranks in the bottom half in the league in runs, hits and batting average. Optimistic Nationals fans will point out that the team is still hanging around in the NL East despite getting almost nothing from the likes of Ryan Zimmerman while dealing with persistent injuries to Matt Adams and Matt Wieters. But it is still a major concern if Scherzer needs to be the one powering the lineup with his bat in order for the Nationals to win games.

Braves Continue To Be Overlooked In The NL East

There has been no bigger resurgence in baseball this season than that of the Braves. The Baby Braves have the third-best record in the National League, own one of the top five offenses in the senior circuit and have one of the most underrated pitching staffs around. Despite this, the Braves are +375 to win the NL East – tied with the third-place Phillies.

Though youngsters like Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna and Dansby Swanson are getting the headlines, veterans Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis have been arguably the two best players at the plate so far this season. Freeman is 10th in the MLB in batting average and third in OBP, behind only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Markakis is fifth in batting average, second in hits and eighth in doubles.

Having some concerns about the Braves pitching staff may be fair, considering their top two starters – Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb – are both young and playing better than most could’ve ever expected. But until the youngsters prove they can’t handle the pressure or the veterans’ arms start falling off, the Braves still possess one of the better rotations in baseball.

The Braves are simply being overlooked due to their age. Yes, they took the top spot in the NL East thanks to an unexpected surge and the early-season struggles of the Washington Nationals. But what other team in baseball can sit 10 games over .500, hold their division lead and still be an underdog?

Odds to win the 2018 National League East Division
Washington Nationals-220
Philadelphia Phillies+375
Atlanta Braves+375
New York Mets+2000
Miami Marlins+75000

Odds as of June 5 at Bovada

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Written By Gilles Gallant

The National League East might end up being one of the most anticlimactic divisional races in recent history. Three of five teams finished with losing records in 2017 and the Washington Nationals lead the charge at -350 odds to claim their fourth division title in five years.

Online sportsbook Bovada has released NL East divisional odds for bettors to cash in on. Below is a team-by-team breakdown to see which club deserves your hard-earned dollars and which ones aren’t worth a pinch of pine tar.

Washington Nationals -350

Probably the most overhyped team in baseball, the Nationals ran away with the division last season with a 97-75 record. The Nats have blue-chip players at every level of their lineup with four players hitting over .300 and mashing 20-plus home runs in 2017. And the talent isn’t just in the batter’s box as Washington’s rotation sports the reigning Cy Young winner in Max Scherzer along with the talented but injury-prone Stephen Strasburg.

If there’s any weakness for the Nationals, it’s the bullpen. Their pen didn’t get any upgrades in the offseason and it may be a priority in a trade by GM Mike Rizzo. If Rizzo isn’t able to bolster that part of the roster, it could open the door for the next team on the list.

New York Mets +450

Injuries may have played the biggest part of the Mets’ regression in 2017 when Noah Syndergaard only tossed 30 innings and Yoenis Cespedes missed 81 games.

Injuries may have played the biggest part of the Mets’ regression in 2017 when superstar pitcher Noah Syndergaard only tossed 30 innings and power hitter Yoenis Cespedes missed 81 games. Two players don’t make a team but considering how spectacular these two have been since coming to New York, their absence (along with those of Jeurys Familia, Michael Conforto and Steven Matz) was felt greatly when considering the team’s overall performance.

The good news, though, is the gang is all expected to come back healthy this season and the starting rotation is the envy of most teams in baseball. Their batting order should also get a boost from the additions of Todd Frazier and Adrian Gonzalez. For a team that finished in the bottom half of the NL in most offensive metrics, it’s hard to envision another season of futility in Queens.

Philadelphia Phillies +1000

The Phillies’ most glaring weakness is their starting rotation that only fields one above-average starter in Aaron Nola. Jared Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez were disappointments on the bump last season but since Philadelphia didn’t add any more starting pitchers, they will have an opportunity to bounce back and show they belong in the majors.

On offense, the Phillies added first baseman Carlos Santana to the lineup in hopes of improving a batting order that only managed 174 home runs last season, which ranked 26th in the majors. If Maikel Franco and super sophomore Rhys Hoskins can take a leap in their development, Philadelphia could make a push for the division if things don’t work out for the Nats.

Atlanta Braves +1800

Only one word defines the Atlanta Braves: Potential. The Atlanta farm system is loaded with up-and-coming prospects including No. 1-ranked Ronald Acuna. But just because your prospects are highly touted does not always translate to immediate success.

As a result, the Braves will probably lose a ton of games in 2018, be out of the playoff race by July and use this year as a building block for upcoming campaigns. Atlanta only had two players hit more than 20 home runs last season with their lone bright spot being Freddie Freeman, who still missed 45 games in 2017. The Braves had a losing record vs each team in their division last season and unless GM Alex Anthopoulos can swing some major trades to boost the lineup, this is a team building for 2019 and beyond.

Miami Marlins +10000

Miami dealt away three outfielders who combined for 114 home runs, 316 runs and 337 RBIs in 2017, and will easily be the worst team in baseball this season.

The apex of tanking may have hit a new level when CEO Derek Jeter held a fire sale on every decent player the Marlins had. Miami dealt away three outfielders who combined for 114 home runs, 316 runs and 337 RBIs in 2017, and will easily be the worst team in baseball this season.

The Marlins, who were already known for poor attendance and losing records, have made it clear to fans that 2018 will not be their year and they may lose 100 games. The lone bright spot left on the roster is Justin Bour, who had 25 home runs and 83 RBIs in 111 games in 2017. At +10000, bettors should focus on other teams in this division and let this team dwell in the basement.

Odds to win the 2018 National League East Division
Washington Nationals-350
New York Mets+450
Philadelphia Phillies+1000
Atlanta Braves+1800
Miami Marlins+10000

Odds as of March 28 at BetOnline