Just under two months into the MLB betting season, some notable teams must overcome sluggish starts to make the playoffs. Among them are the Phillies, Padres, and Cardinals. Keep in mind, each opened the 2023 campaign among the 10 shortest World Series odds. Let’s break down whether any of them are worth a long-term investment.
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Philadelphia Phillies (+120 Yes/-145 No)
Although San Diego possesses the shortest odds within this group to advance to the playoffs, we’ll lead off with the defending National League champs. Surprisingly, Philadelphia’s pitching has carried the torch while its offense showcases a league-average wRC+. Bryce Harper missing the first month of the season certainly didn’t help, but outside of the 2021 NL MVP, their headline-worthy bats — like Trea Turner — have failed to produce consistently.
As my teammate Mo Nuwwarah alluded to on our MLB podcast (see below), the Phillies received an ounce of luck on their way to the 2022 World Series. If not for a ninth-inning rally against the Cardinals in the wild-card round, we may have seen a different result. Postseason variance isn’t an excuse but more so the norm in any sport. The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are perfect examples this time of year.
In the end, the “No” price may be worth considering — despite sitting only 1.5 games out of the wild-card race (as of this publish).
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San Diego Padres (-125 Yes/+105 No)
Similar to Rob Thomson’s club, the Padres offense has scuffled — to an even worse degree. Overall, they’ve delivered the league’s worst wRC+ with runners in scoring position. One would expect them to undergo positive regression in the near future, especially Manny Machado. The perennial All-Star has delivered a .226 BABIP in those situations.
Nevertheless, their starting arms also need to pick up the slack. Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell, normally two reliable hurlers, both own a FIP north of 5.5. Each has yielded a barrel rate in the bottom quartile of qualified MLB starters as well.
San Diego’s offensive talent isn’t in question, yet I don’t entirely buy the notion their pitching staff will turn the corner as well.
St. Louis Cardinals (+140 Yes/-165 No)
In last week’s MLB betting column, I hit on why the Cardinals are a valuable bet to win the NL Central at +300 or greater. Since those odds are no longer available, I’d consider taking a hard look at this price.
There’s speculation that superstars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are banged up, but nothing appears ultra-concerning at the moment. As long St. Louis’ front office doesn’t continue its stubborn approach in regards to its rotation, it will climb up the standings sooner than later.
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