Posted on July 20, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The all-star break has come and gone and now it’s time to get excited about the second half of the MLB season. Five of the six divisions in baseball have five games or less between first and second place, so there is all to play for in the second half. Now seems like the perfect time to look at the current betting odds to see what teams have the best chance of winning the 2018 World Series.
Houston’s rotation is almost unfair. They’ve only had to use five starters this season, as everyone has stayed healthy. All five also have an ERA under 4, so all have pitched well. On top of that, the Astros still have one of the most dynamic lineups in baseball. There is some stuff to work out in the bullpen after Ken Giles was insubordinate and got demoted. But the Astros won last year’s Fall Classic with a subpar bullpen, so they shouldn’t be too concerned.
The Yankees slipped a little right before the all-star break, but on paper, they look like a championship team. The rotation will need an upgrade before the trade deadline, but the bullpen is in good shape and their young players have performed better than expected. When October rolls around, the Yankees will be as dangerous as anybody.
Red Sox, 21-4
Outside of Chris Sale, there are some questions about Boston’s rotation, which is why the Red Sox are just a little behind the Astros and Yankees. To this point, the Red Sox have done it primarily with their offense. That’s not always enough in October when facing elite pitching, but it worked for the Astros last season, and it could be enough for Boston this year.
With the addition of Manny Machado, the Dodgers are the obvious favorites in the National League. There’s been no real separation in the N.L., but Machado going to Los Angeles could be enough to lift the Dodgers over everyone else. Of course, the Dodgers will need their starters to stay healthy, which was an issue for them early in the season. But if those injuries are a thing of the past, the Dodgers will be tough to beat.
This is not the same Cubs team that stream rolled the National League a couple years ago, but they’re still pretty good. Chicago started to assert itself inside the NL Central just before the all-star break, so perhaps the Cubs are starting to hit their stride. The Cubs are not quite on the same level as the teams in the American League, but the National League offers an easier path to the World Series, and if they get there, the Cubs can’t be counted out.
The Indians are an intriguing dark horse this season. They haven’t been all that impressive, but they should cruise to the AL Central crown, so getting to the playoffs won’t be an issue. Cleveland’s rotation can still match up against any other in baseball in a four-game series, and if the Indians can get their bullpen sorted out after their recent trade, they could find a way to sneak up on the Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox in the postseason.
With a solid rotation and an intriguing crew of young position players, the oddsmakers like the Phillies a little more than most teams in the National League. The Phillies also appear motivated to make a move or two at the trade deadline, especially after missing out on Machado. With the right trade, the Phillies could be a lot closer to the Dodgers and Cubs than the rest of the National League.
Diamondbacks, Braves, Brewers, Mariners, Nationals, 20-1
If all breaks well, it’s not impossible to see any of these five teams make a World Series run. Of course, they all have flaws that could hold them back. Arizona’s rotation has been weakened by injuries. Atlanta’s bullpen may not hold up. The Brewers lack a bonafide ace to lead their rotation. The Mariners will likely have to settle for a wild-card game against the Yankees or Red Sox just to get to the ALDS. The Nationals, meanwhile, just haven’t clicked this season amidst a slew of injuries that may be too much to overcome.