Chicago Cubs (+450)
If someone is a betting man, they should bet on Chicago Cubs right now. The Cubs’ stock will never be lower, which is great for potential bettors. After losing six straight on the road in California, Chicago returned home to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to get above .500 and are only a game back of first place. The team will obviously make the playoffs and once they make the postseason, they will star. Even though the Astros are 11 games better in the loss column, this team still has the most talent in the MLB. On offense, they possess stars such as reigning MVP Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Javy Baez, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber. Although Rizzo, Russell, and Schwarber have struggled this season, they have done nothing, but hit since they have entered the MLB. However, the difference between this team and the Stros is their starting pitching and experience. The Astros have never made it out of the ALDS and the Cubs have won a World Series and possess four solid starting pitchers. Although none of them have succeeded this season, they have too much talent and past success to not turn it around. Lester is the only pitcher with a below 4.00 ERA among the four starters, Lester, Hendricks, Arrieta, and Lackey. Hendricks’ season last year may have been a flash in the pan, but the other three have top end potential. Lester is a great pitcher and becomes even better when the calendar turns to September and October. In the postseason, Lester owns a 2.63 ERA. Lackey is a similar pitcher, even though he is aging and is not a true ace. In October, Lackey possesses a 3.27 ERA and he has been pitching for winning teams his entire career. Lastly, Arrieta is in a contract year and he will be motivated to return his Cy Young form if he wants to make max money this offseason. Along with their starting rotation, the relief staff is nasty. Wade Davis is one of the great closers in the MLB and Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montegomery have been incredible in the setup role.
Boston Red Sox (+750)
In terms of the American League, I would choose the Red Sox to win the pennant over the Houston Astros and reach the World Series. Like the Cubs, the Red Sox were one of the favorites to start the season, but began the year slowly. As of late, they have played better baseball and have pulled their record to five games above .500 and second place in the division. Even though the Yankees have started well, the Red Sox have one of the most talented rosters in MLB. On offense, they are as skilled as the Cubs with Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley, Betts, Ramirez, Pedroia, and Pablo Sandoval have experienced either injuries or a down season, which is a reason why the Red Sox are in their current location. The lineup is so vaunted because they have players that hit for power, high average, and speed. In terms of pitching, the rotation is still finding themselves, but they have the potential to be dominant. Chris Sale has been everything that the Red Sox expected when they dealt two of their top prospects for the lefty. Sale is in the competition for the league lead in ERA, WHIP, wins, and strikeouts. Along with Sale, Price, a legitimate ace, has just returned from injury, Drew Pomeranz has pitched well lately, and Porcello should be able to improve on his 4.24 ERA. In the bullpen, the team has been absolutely dominant. The trio of Craig Kimbrel, Robby Scott, and Joe Kelly each have over 20 games pitched and have an ERA under 1.50. The team is going to make a big run soon so bettors should take advantage of this position, like with the Cubs.
St. Louis Cardinals (+2500)
For my sleeper pick, I chose a team that was over +1000. Although there were many good options such as the first place Yankees, the Cardinals are the team with high odds that have the best chance of winning. The Cardinals just have a championship pedigree that never seems to dissipate even when stars leave the squad. The Cardinals have been mediocre this season as they are three games below .500, but still only 2.5 games out of first place. Although it is unlikely that they will win the division due to the Cubs, they are only 6 games out of a wild card position. The Cards will make up this ground because they have started to play better lately, the Diamondbacks will not continue this success, and there are over 100 games left in the season. The offense has been sluggish all year for the Cardinals, but their stars are too good to not turn around. Aledmys Diaz, Yadier Molina, Dexter Fowler, Randal Grichuk, and Matt Carpenter are all batting below .260, which is consistently below their career averages. Each of these batters have experienced great success in the past and their averages will climb closer to the .300 mark by the end of the season. However, the team will succeed because of the strength of their staff. The staff has experienced mixed results, but they have an incredible combination of talent, experience, and youth. Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha have top notch talent and have shown the ability to dominate teams even in October. Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, and Mike Leake are consummate professionals. Wainwright is a former ace that still possesses the ability and knowledge to retire professional hitters. Lynn and Leake are both having superb years as they each have ERAs under 3.00 and WHIP below 1.10. The team’s bullpen does not stack up well when compared against the elites, but the combination of Trevor Rosenthaul and Seung Hwan Oh are a solid 8th and 9th inning duo. Although the team does not have the talent of teams like the Astros, Cubs, or Red Sox, they are a good long odd bet because of their solid offensive ability, pitching strength, and knack for October success.