2018 MLB Roundtable – How Will the Rest of the Year Play Out?
Published on September 15, 2018
The 2018 MLB season is rapidly drawing to a close, as two divisions are all but wrapped up, and the playoff picture is starting to look a bit clearer.
Things are far from settled, however. There are still numerous divisions completely up for grabs and a slew of MLB prop bets that don’t have a winner.
And this all comes before a new World Series champion is crowned.
I’m joined by our resident MLB betting experts, Noah Davis and Michael Wynn, as we take a look at how things could unfold for the remainder of September, both from a fan’s viewpoint and a betting perspective.
From division winners to MVP odds and Cy Young winners to who will win the World Series, Michael and Noah cover it all to get you ready for the final stretch.
Hopefully this provides you with enough insight to lead you toward winning some cash!
Noah Davis: The Astros are the obvious answer, and you can start talking about the NL if you’re only looking to the World Series. I think there could be a real threat to the Red Sox in the AL, however, and (gasp) it might not be Houston.
Obviously the Yankees and Athletics are in the discussion, but the team I’m really worried about is the Cleveland Indians. Does anybody rival their top-shelf pitching and potent offense?
The Yankees, A’s, and Red Sox all can hit with anyone, but of that trio, only Boston has the arms to even argue here. Houston does have the pitching talent, but they’ve been wilting down the stretch.
Cleveland has everything you need to win a title and almost got it done two years ago. The way they’ve been playing, there’s a strong argument for them finishing the job this season.
Michael Wynn: I’m not going to beat around the bush, because Noah is completely spot-on here.
There is no doubt that the Red Sox have played extraordinary baseball this season, but it could actually be Terry Francona’s club who is more poised to make a run at the World Series.
Led by MVP candidate Jose Ramirez, Cleveland’s lineup has the potency to score runs in bunches. But what I like most about the Indians is how stellar their pitching staff is from top to bottom.
With the emergence of Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber, this team has no holes in their starting rotation. If and when Trevor Bauer returns from his leg injury, things could get very interesting in the crowded American League.
MW: There is really no right or wrong answer here, as a trio of squads are locked in a tight battle as we come down the stretch. The Los Angeles Dodgers made a huge splash when they acquired Manny Machado via trade in July, which bolstered their lineup overnight.
While most folks fancy LA’s chances, I actually think it will be the Rockies who walk away with this division when it’s all said and done. I also think the Diamondbacks have a shot and will push this thing to the very end, but the big bats in Colorado should be enough to get the job done.
Nolan Arenado is a total beast, and Trevor Story is having a career year. The Rockies were the first team in this division to get to 80 wins, and I think they’ll hang on and be crowned NL West champs for the first time in team history.
ND: It really is incredibly tight, with the top three teams separated by a maximum of 2.5 games. I certainly can’t deny your love for the Rockies, Michael. However, I simply don’t trust them.
Playing in Coors Field makes their entire situation volatile. Any team with a capable offense can come in and take them down, while their struggles on the road have been documented for years.
Arizona is also trending in the wrong direction, so I think the arrow points up for the Dodgers.
This was LA,’s division last year, and they still have unfinished business in chasing a World Series. If they’re going to get there, they need to wrap this division up, and I think they do just that.
ND: The Brewers are still a threat to the Cubs, and I wouldn’t necessarily rule out the Cardinals. However, Chicago looks like it’s losing its grasp on this division every time, and all they do is respond by going on hot runs to stave off the competition.
When the Cubs actually play like they care, they’re as good as anyone offensively. Their pitching isn’t elite, but Jon Lester has been in solid form of late, and Cole Hamels was inexplicably a great find.
On paper, the Cubs have the best balance in this division. With a lead in hand, I don’t see them coughing it away. Maybe they meet one of their NL Central rivals and lose in the playoffs, but the division is theirs to lose.
MW: I could just agree with Noah, and we could move right along, but isn’t it a lot more fun to play devil’s advocate?
Like Mr. Davis said, on paper, it should be the Cubbies who walk away with the NL Central. But when I actually look closely at the Milwaukee Brewers batting order, I actually think I see as much, if not more, firepower.
Adding Mike Moustakas gives this team another weapon in the middle of their lineup, and pieces like Jonathan Schoop and Curtis Granderson give this team enough depth to compete with anybody.
Throw in the MVP-caliber campaigns being displayed by Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, and you are talking about a scary team as we wind down toward the end of the regular season.
If the Brew Crew’s pitching comes together, I suspect we’ll see them overtake the Cubs and win this division.
MW: As much as I love what Oakland has been doing, I’m not convinced they’ll be able to leapfrog the defending champs in the AL West.
The Astros still have a bevy of big-time bats littered throughout their lineup, and I still believe that Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander will pitch like aces when it matters most.
However, winning a series in the playoffs is about playing well at the right time, and it’s hard to argue that any team is playing better than Bob Melvin’s bunch in the Bay Area right now.
As far as the NL East goes, the Braves have now jumped out to a sizable lead, and the Phillies and/or Nationals will have to do something extra-special to tighten the gap and be a factor.
If you are still in the population who thinks the “Baby Braves” are too young and inexperienced to hang onto this division, then you just haven’t been watching Major League Baseball closely enough in 2018.
Ronald Acuna Jr. has been as advertised, if not exceeded his lofty expectations, not to mention that the exuberance from Ozzie Albies and Johan Camargo has rubbed off onto the rest of the dugout.
I didn’t even mention all-world first baseman Freddie Freeman or how well Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte have played in the outfield. Nor did I talk about Mike Foltynewicz or the late-season addition of Kevin Gausman.
But the point is, this team is built to not only win the NL East but possibly to also do some serious damage come October.
ND: Michael took all of the good points, but I agree; it’s Astros and Braves.
Oakland is very impressive offensively, and they sure are fun to watch. However, their park actually curbs their own offense, and if the park they travel to on the road isn’t good for homers, they can get lost in a hurry.
The A’s also don’t have the pitching to match Houston, so even though the Astros aren’t ahead by much, I don’t see Oakland closing the gap.
Atlanta is benefiting immensely from an awful collapse by the Nationals. Washington has dominated the AL West for years, but both the Braves and Phillies climbed the ranks this year and have been very tough to deal with.
Michael made a good point about Atlanta’s youth causing people to overlook them, but they’re the real deal. They have a stacked offense and a handful of solid arms. I don’t think they’re consistent enough defensively to go far in the playoffs, but this division is going to be theirs.
ND: I’m actually going out on a limb here and saying the Tribe make it to the World Series for the second time in three years.
Trevor Bauer will be back, Corey Kluber is working back to an elite level, and they just have way too many high-level arms for opposing teams to hit around.
Even if these elite hurlers falter, the Indians have an absolutely stacked lineup that can crush both sides of the plate. Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley, Francisco Lindor, and Yonder Alonso compile a loaded offense that isn’t afraid of anyone.
I mean, Josh Donaldson is being added to this crew, and he’s not even a legit reason why you need to consider betting on the Indians yet.
Cleveland offers awesome value as the AL Pennant winner, and if you want to take it one step further, they’re a fun bet (+900 at SportsBetting.ag) to take home a title this year as well.
MW: Listen, I’m not going to argue with Noah’s points here. Everything he said was completely valid, and the value the Indians provide on SportsBetting.ag simply cannot be denied.
But everything I have seen and read tells me that Chris Sale’s shoulder is completely fine. His most recent DL stint was solely precautionary and was likely just done to “save his arm” for postseason play.
As sweet as Cleveland’s lineup is, I can’t ignore the fact that Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are absolutely obliterating the baseball in Boston. Plus, I happen to think that Andrew Benintendi is one of the brightest young stars we have in this league.
Boston already reached 100 wins, and I don’t see Alex Cora’s unit slowing down one bit.
Give me Boston to make it to the Fall Classic now, because that +190 price to win the AL Pennant could get even worse as we get closer to the end.
MW: I may have hinted at my excitement about this team in a previous response, but I just love the pieces that Braves skipper Brian Snitker has in place in Atlanta.
I already raved about the young studs like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, but allow the following numbers to help put things into perspective as to just how impressive Ronald has been since the All-Star break.
He is second in the majors with 18 homers since the Midsummer Classic, and the 43 runs he has scored since he moved to the leadoff spot top the entire league.
I could continue bragging about the kid who isn’t even old enough to order an alcoholic beverage yet, but you get the idea.
The Braves have the bats, and they have the pitching.
Now let’s see if they can keep this up once the calendar turns to October.
Maybe I’m just missing something, or I don’t quite buy the Braves, Cubs, and Brewers. But I can’t quit the Dodgers.
There has been a maddening amount of inconsistency out of last year’s NL Pennant winner, but the Dodgers still have one of the best hurlers in baseball, a strong staff around him, and an absolutely loaded offense.
That trade for Machado that Michael referenced was a big one. Not only did it address a season-ending injury to Corey Seager, but it showed just how “all in” LA truly is for 2018.
Los Angeles came so close to a title last year, and they still have what it takes to get right back to the promised land. Whether they finish the job, of course, is an entirely different discussion.
ND: This is an extremely rare feat, so I’m hesitant to bite here. Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012, but that was the first time anyone had made it happen since 1967.
Martinez is a special player. I can see him holding onto the leads for homer and RBI, but he’s behind teammate Mookie Betts for batting average by enough that I think this isn’t going to happen.
It’s not like J.D. is a lock for the first two categories, either. Khris Davis is actually ahead of him as I write this, and Joe Ramirez isn’t far behind when it comes to the long ball, either.
I’ll be rooting for it, but this is quite the tall order. I’m going to have to say he falls just short.
MW: As Noah alluded to, other than “Migs’ ” historic 2012 campaign, we haven’t seen a Triple Crown winner since 1967. Not because we haven’t had a plethora of world-class batters come through the league – but because it’s just really, really hard to accomplish.
I wouldn’t call J.D.’s RBI lead a complete stranglehold, but his chances of ending the year as the AL RBI leader are extremely high. Whether he passes Khris Davis in homers and is able to stay ahead of the likes of Jose Ramirez and Joey Gallo remains to be seen, but I certainly see lots of scenarios where he hits the most jacks as well.
But like ND said, Mookie is batting .340 and just isn’t going to slow down. Not that Martinez’s .329 average is anything to balk at, but I see J.D. coming up a nose short of the incredible achievement.
MW: I guess I sort of gave away my answer above, but I have to go with J.D. Martinez.
The dude has been raking all year long and smacks balls over the Green Monster in Fenway Park like it’s not even an obstacle.
But if you want a sleeper, look out for Rangers slugger Joey Gallo to get hot as we close out the year. I can promise you he won’t go down “without swinging,” because he’s homered or struck out in over 49% of his at-bats this season!
ND: Yeah, Michael laid it out for us all twice now. He’s right; it’s going to be J.D. However, depending on what home run prop bets are out there, I’m sure he’d be the runaway favorite with crazy odds.
That may force bettors to consider a nice pivot or to look at some sleepers. You shouldn’t stray far, but Khris Davis is neck and neck with Martinez and absolutely could still finish in the lead.
Khrush doesn’t benefit from playing home games in a hitter’s haven like Fenway Park, but he’s still having a fantastic season and can flex his power muscle pretty much anywhere.
Jose Ramirez is a fine sleeper option at this point. He probably should be in the lead, but he went through a month-long homer drought. It’s not impossible for him to catch fire and finish the year with more long balls than anyone else, though.
Still, Khris Davis is your best bet beyond Martinez, but I’m personally not betting against J.D. here.
ND: At this point, I’m going to have to say no.
We are already over a week into the month of September, and nobody is even close to 50. It’d take quite the remarkable hot run for someone to get even within striking distance of 60+ dongs this year.
J.D. Martinez or Khris Davis would be your best bets, but they’d basically have to average a homer every day to get there. Even then, they’d probably fall short.
MW: Noah and I were both around when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa used to slug 60+ homers per year like it was nobody’s business, but those days are long gone, folks.
We don’t have to get into a discussion about steroids or any of that, but just look at recent history. No player in the American League has swatted out 60+ homers since Roger Maris did in 1961, and we haven’t seen it happen in the NL since Barry Bonds’ record-setting year in 2001 (73 homers).
I think the better question is “Will someone get to 50 homers?” and even then, I’d still probably say no.
MW: We talk about tight races all the time, but these MVP races are legitimately still up for grabs, with there being multiple guys who have thrown their hat in the ring.
The AL MVP race will come down to Jose Ramirez battling it out with Boston’s two biggest bats – Mookie Betts and the aforementioned J.D. Martinez.
Given the Red Sox’s record, I have to imagine that the award will lean toward Betts or Martinez, and allow me to make one thing clear. If J.D. does win the Triple Crown, then the award is his.
But the fact that he predominantly plays DH and Mookie is out there playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in the outfield makes me want to give Betts the slight advantage here.
As I turn my attention over to the National League, again, there is no clear-cut choice right now. If the Cardinals make the playoffs, then the incredible second-half push by Matt Carpenter could be enough to warrant the MVP award.
But guys like Javy Baez and Nolan Arenado are putting up mammoth-sized stats, and both of their clubs are in the middle of tight division races. I’ll point out that Christian Yelich will be considered in Milwaukee if the Brewers land in the playoffs, so you can see, this is undecided.
I guess I can’t get off the hook without making a solid pick, so I’ll go out on a limb and say the Brewers win their division, and Yelich will be the biggest reason why.
ND: I like everyone Michael mentioned, but if the guy has a shot at the dang Triple Crown, Martinez has to be the call.
Not only has he put up awesome numbers in his first season with the Red Sox, but it’s fair to say Martinez’s jolt in the offense is a huge reason why they’re the best team in baseball these days.
I’ll hear arguments for others, but Martinez is my only AL MVP I’d actually bet on.
As for the NL, this one feels wide open. Can pitcher Jacob deGrom win? If his team wasn’t so awful, yeah.
Sadly, I don’t see that happening, and there is just a huge logjam of impressive players this year. Assuming the Rockies at least sneak into the MLB playoffs (and heck, maybe even if they don’t), Nolan Arenado probably takes the cake for me.
He does benefit from playing at Coors Field, but Arenado could easily finish the year atop the NL in HR and RBI. He won’t take down the BA, but he’s looking good at .300 as I write this.
Matt Carpenter, Paul Goldschmidt, and maybe even Bryce Harper are in the mix, but I give the slight edge to Arenado.
ND: I have been very impressed with the maturation of both Blake Snell and Trevor Bauer this year. As good as they’ve been, nobody in the AL has touched Chris Sale.
He’s been everything the Red Sox have asked him to be and more, blowing everyone out of the water with a 1.96 ERA and finishing near the top in whiffs even though he’s missed some starts due to injury.
Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Corey Kluber can be tossed into the conversation, but for the AL, it’s really a one-man show.
On the NL side, I’m not sure you can seriously go away from Jacob deGrom. I know he’s been held back by a bad Mets team in 2018, but that only makes his nasty 1.71 ERA and 239 strikeouts (at the time of this writing) all the more impressive.
DeGrom has been flat-out dominant, and if he actually got run support, he might even be contending for the lead in wins. If you want a viable pivot, Mad Max (1st in Ks) is really the only other pitcher in play for me.
MW: Noah kind of stole all the thunder here, but I’ll do my best to stir the pot.
Certainly, Chris Sale has been the most dominant and most impressive pitcher in the American League when pitching. The problem is because Boston jumped out to such a huge lead in their division, the Red Sox have geared back with their usage of their star pitcher.
Case in point – Chris Sale hasn’t completed 6 innings since July 27th.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay hurler Blake Snell’s ERA is down to 2.03, right on the heels of Sale. Plus he’s leading the league with 19 wins (19-5 mark) and has struck out 195 batters through 164 innings.
Snell might not carry the same hype, and he might not be a household name like Chris Sale. But I can’t argue with his numbers.
In the National League, Max Scherzer is putting together another outstanding year on the rubber, as is Aaron Nola in Philadelphia. If either the Phillies or Nationals can somehow sneak into the playoffs, then the voters might lean toward one of these two men.
But what Jacob deGrom has been doing for a depleted New York Mets team all season long is mind-boggling. Jacob’s sparkling 1.71 ERA and 239 Ks through 195 innings are remarkable stats, but I still have a hard time getting past his 8-9 record.
DeGrom might not be able to control the amount of run support he receives, but I can assure you that the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America won’t be fond of awarding a Cy Young award to someone who doesn’t eclipse double-digit wins.
DeGrom deserves this award, but don’t be surprised if Nola or Scherzer get the nod. In fact, I’ll make it interesting and say that Nola’s NL-leading 9.2 WAR (wins above replacement) is enough to capture the NL Cy Young.
That does it for our breakdown of where everyone stands in baseball right now and where our top two MLB experts expect the rest of the season to take us.
There could be room for some elite betting value as September winds down, whether you’re betting on playoff games, MLB player prop bets, or a World Series winner.
Bettors still have time to finalize said bets, and a lot can happen in just a few weeks. Ideally, our look at the latest MLB movement helps you with your wagers. Either way, good luck, and enjoy the rest of the year!