The Chicago Cubs boast baseball’s best record and the lowest staff earned run average in the National League, which is why their 2016 World Series champion odds have been lowered at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Entering the final month of the regular season, the Cubs are listed at +300 to win the World Series, which the Northsiders have not done since 1908. It does not take a long-suffering Cubs fan to know that finishing in the range of 100 wins isn’t a guarantee of postseason success, but the Cubs have a formidable big three in their starting pitching with RHP Kyle Hendricks, RHP Jake Arrieta and LHP John Lester.
Trading with the New York Yankees for closer Aroldis Chapman has also fortified the Cubs’ bullpen. Chicago has also had better than league-average production from six of their eight everyday players, including 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo.
October baseball is more about pitching and the fundamentals than putting up big numbers, which is why the AL West-leading Texas Rangers have seen their odds come down to +650. Texas has MLB’s best record in one-run games, thanks to a balanced lineup and a strong bullpen built around closer Sam Dyson. Texas should have RHP Colby Lewis back in time for the playoffs to join ace LHP Cole Hamels in their rotation.
The Washington Nationals are also listed at +650. Washington has a safe lead atop the NL East, thanks in large part to big years from 2B Daniel Murphy, RF Bryce Harper and Nos. 1 and 2 starters Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark. The Nats’ bullpen, particularly the middle-inning relief, is problematic. That could prove to be an Achilles heel in a NLDS matchup against the NL West winner, either the San Francisco Giants (+750) or Los Angeles Dodgers (+1400).
Whoever finishes second in the NL West will likely be a wild card. The Giants won the World Series in 2014 as a wild card, and LHP Madison Bumgarner and RHP Johnny Cueto have both been aces on championship teams.
The Cleveland Indians are listed at +800. Like Texas, Cleveland is balanced at the plate and in the field, where RHP Corey Kluber and closer Cody Allen have contributed to the second-best ERA in the American League. The AL Central and AL East winners are likely to meet in the first round, and it’s concerning that Cleveland is a combined 7-12 against the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays, whose middle relief has been problematic, are listed at +900. Toronto boasts a deeper starting staff than it did in 2015, when it slugged its way to within two victories of the World Series. Both the Orioles (+1200) and Red Sox (+1400) are excellent offensive teams, but pitching depth is an issue.
The defending champion Kansas City Royals are now listed at +20000. The Royals still have a mathematical possibility of a wild card spot, but disabled stints for relievers Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar and Chien-Ming Wang likely hurt their potential for a big finish.