Braves straightforward favorites over Mets in NL East Division odds
Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson celebrates with Freddie Freeman after Cristian Pache scored a single in the second inning of Game 5 of a National League Baseball Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, October 16, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo / Tony Gutierrez)
- The National League East is expected to be the closest divisional race in Major League Baseball
- The Atlanta Braves are a +125 favorite to take a fourth straight crown ahead of the Mets
- Read on for a division preview, full odds and the best bet on who will win the 2021 NL East
Three straight titles seem pretty good for any Major League Baseball franchise. But maybe Atlanta is the exception, which isn't surprising when you consider that the Braves won 14 consecutive division crowns between 1991 and 2005. There is dominance … and then there is dominance.
Either way, if the Braves hope to retake the Divisional Summit in 2021, they'll have to get past the remodeled New York Mets that have been busy over the winter and the deep pockets of a new owner and the arrivals of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco.
But it's far from a two-horse race. Arguments are easy to make for both the Washington Nationals, who won the World Series two seasons ago, and the Philadelphia Phillies, while the Miami Marlins have just made the playoffs for the first time since 2003, the closest division race in the majors.
2021 NL East Division odds
|New York Mets||+145|
Chances to win starting February 22nd at DraftKings.
Atlanta is waiting
One extra run here or there and it could easily be that Atlanta played the Tampa Bay Rays for the World Series last fall. Instead, the Braves let the Dodgers off the mat, tossing a 3-1 NLCS lead away to end their season in a heartbreaking way.
The Braves are just around the corner and the Braves have cause for excitement, not least because of their overworked rotation. While Charlie Morton has come in from the Rays, some of the improvement will come internally, not least the reappearance of Mike Soroka.
Official news on @Braves ace Mike Soroka. pic.twitter.com/GDNY9Cbmyj
– FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) August 4, 2020
The young right-handed man ended his 2020 season with an Achilles tendon injury. While he may not be back on the hill on opening day, on his return he brings his 15-6 record and 2.86 career ERA.
The MLB Network's Top 100 Player List:
1. Mike Trout (LAA)
2. Mookie Betts (LAD)
3. Jacob deGrom (NYM)
4. Freddie Freeman (ATL)
5. Juan Soto (WHAT)
6. Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD)
7. Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL)
8. Anthony Rendon (LAA)
9. Christian Yelich (MIL)
10. Cody Bellinger (LAD)
– Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) February 19, 2021
The team will need little help offensively; The Atlanta 348 races were only a shortfall on the Dodgers' 349. Their bats are led by Freddie Freeman, who won the NL MVP Award last year. He is supported by Ronald Acuna Jr., Dansby Swanson and Marcell Ozuna, who led the NL with 18 home runs and 56 RBI in the shortened 2020 season.
All of those bats are back and the Braves have an embarrassment of riches to drive the club offensively.
Mets on a mission
New owner Steve Cohen brought more than just a blank check when he took over the team last November. He gave this team a new attitude that showed in the off-season.
Steve Cohen on the 2021 Mets:
"I think we will improve a lot. I am hopeful … I am excited about the prospects we have this year so I can't wait to get started." pic.twitter.com/nKxcWEnVGI
– SNY (@SNYtv) February 20, 2021
Only the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants added more free agents than the nine Mets, while the team's total spend – over $ 94 million – was the fifth highest.
The team's greatest success was trading with shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco from the Indians. Carrasco is adding his 2.91 ERA from last season to a rotation that includes Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker and Noah Syndergaard when he returns from Tommy John.
At our Beyond The Booth Live season finale, Gary, Keith & Ron watch the impact the Fernando Tatis Jr. expansion has on Francisco Lindor, when the Mets have made the improvements necessary to become a better defensive team, and more.
FULL EPISODE: https://t.co/vTXI6Rh5nY pic.twitter.com/6hccLcYdDg
– SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) February 19, 2021
The crime is slightly above average in the Netherlands. Lindor is moving to first baseman Pete Alonso and outfielder Michael Conforto, who drove a total of 66 runs last season. The team has also signed catcher James McCann and will also have the willingness and financial resources to add to their line-up before close of trading when the Mets are in competition.
2021 World Series Odds Tracker
A national insecurity
It's hard to overlook a team with a top trio made up of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. For the Nats to do anything in the Divisional Race, the trio will need to return to their 2019 form if they hit an ERA of 3.32 or less on their way to winning the World Series.
A year ago today…
Max Scherzer told Joe Ross that he couldn't go to World Series Game 5 and "be ready".
Joe was ready.
Nats Park was done. @ JoeRoss21 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/W5rFUO183I
– Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 27, 2020
Last season Strasburg only had two starts while Corbin went 2-7 with a 4.66 ERA. Only Scherzer looked like his normal self and went 5-4 with a 3.74 ERA.
All three are over 30 years old, however, and maybe, just maybe, that campaign that won the World Series was the beginning of the end for that group.
Philly focused again
The 2020 Philadelphia Phillies were largely undermined by porous defenses and a terrible bullpen en route to a 28-32 third place in the division.
It's hard to see where the change will come from in 2021 as the team brings back most of the lineup from last year and looks back on recent signings from shortstop Didi Gregorius and catcher J.T. Realmuto who had 72 RBI between them.
"We may not be the favorites"
"But in this clubhouse we have the feeling that we have just as good a chance as anyone else."
"We're not as far away as people want it to be."
1on1 with JT Realmuto tonight on NBC10 Philly Live Sports 23:50 pic.twitter.com/YM7ms4lKi5
– John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) February 15, 2021
Much like the Nats, if the Phillies go anywhere in 2021, it will be down to the strength of their rotation. Finished third in the MLB, the Philadelphia starters had a combined 7.0 wins over the substitute last season, according to FanGraphs, who finished third in the MLB. This ranking was largely thanks to Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin, all of whom have won at least four games and posted ERAs below 4.00.
Phillies won 8 out of 9 🔥🔥
2 games over 500
On the second place
2 straight team shutouts behind
Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler
– John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 3, 2020
The team will need more of this group, especially when it comes to games if the Bullpen continues to underperform like last season. The pen's 6/7 ERA was the worst mark in MLB last year. So the hope will be that former Diamondbacks aide Archie Bradley can do something to revive this group.
Miami makes waves
A first berth after the season in 17 seasons has a positive effect on the team's self-confidence. The question now becomes what kind of encore the Marlins can do.
FLIP THE M !!!!! The 2020 Miami Marlins are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003! The Marlins defeated the Yankees in additional innings to secure a spot in the postseason. Sandy Alcantara was electric and Garrett Cooper hit a threesome! LFG !! #JuntosMiami pic.twitter.com/OWUwzI6vnM
– Hector Rodriguez (@Hector_Baseball) September 26, 2020
A +2500 underdog to win the division, the Marlins went 31-29 to finish four games behind the Braves last year. Her offensive was only the 11th best in the NL, and that's where her pitching ended with a 4.86 ERA.
Given that the Marlins have lost more games than any other team since 2012, expect the team to stay on course to give their youth a chance to develop. That may pay off in a season or two, but it likely precludes them from getting a real run for the 2021 NL East.
A fourfold conclusion?
The Atlanta Braves have been here before and have always responded well. Given its proximity to the World Series, its thriving rotation, and an offense as good as that of World Champion Dodgers, it's an unfinished business for the Braves.
Expect them to begin their attack on a world championship by adding a fourth NL East in a row to their championship resume.
Selection: Braves (+125)
MLB division preview 2021::