The Chicago Cubs ended 108 years of frustration when they won the 2016 World Series – and they became the most popular team in baseball along the way. But where are all those fans now? The Cubs may have already clinched the Central division, but at press time, they’re not the favorites on the National League pennant odds list. They’re not even the second favorites.

You can blame the Los Angeles Dodgers for that. The Dodgers have the best record in the majors with 102 wins heading into Thursday’s action, and they’re the No. 1 team on the MLB NL Pennant futures market at +125. Sitting at No. 2 are the Washington Nationals at +325; then you have the Cubs at +350. One of these three division winners will probably represent the senior circuit this year. Which one will it be?


How Do You Spell Relief?

It still seems a bit weird not to see the Cubs at the top of the NL pennant odds. 2017 didn’t get off to a good start for the defending champs, but after picking up SP Jose Quintana (3.38 FIP) in mid-July, Chicago righted the ship and took hold of their division. Getting RP Justin Wilson (3.92 FIP) and catcher Alex Avila (.760 OPS) at the trade deadline helped, too, but Wilson just went on the DL with a sore neck, so the Cubs’ much-maligned bullpen remains a question mark heading into October.

The Dodgers stole Chicago’s thunder this year by carrying a 91-36 record into late August, but the MLB betting lines haven’t been kind to LA over the past month. They lost 16 of their next 17 games before pulling out of their tailspin. Once again, the bullpen is a concern on what’s otherwise a tremendous baseball team; perhaps shortening their rotation for the playoffs will help in that department, but No. 5 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (4.44 FIP) is on the shelf with a forearm injury.


Snakes Alive

Maybe this will be Washington’s year after all. But the Nationals have never won a playoff series, and their National League Championship odds are probably inflated after dominating the otherwise soft NL East. At least they have a better run differential (plus-147) than the Cubs (plus-118), although both teams are trailing the Dodgers (plus-193) by a wide margin.

That could make the Arizona Diamondbacks (+700) the best value on the MLB betting board. They’ve already clinched the first NL Wild Card berth, and they could be peaking at just the right time. The second Wild Card is still up for grabs between the Colorado Rockies (+1800), the St. Louis Cardinals (+6600) and the Milwaukee Brewers (+5000), none of whom look as good as the Snakes this year. The Rockies are 2.5 games up on Milwaukee; the Brewers and Cardinals play each other to close the season, so the last playoff spot will probably go to Colorado. If Arizona wins that Wild Card Game, watch out.


*Odds as of September 28, 2017