2020 MLB Over/Under Win Total Picks, Futures Odds – NL East

Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves (photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

Last updated: July 2, 2020

Another fun division to watch in the MLB should be the National League (NL) East, which is home to the reigning World Series champions, the Washington Nationals. In the article, we’ll go over the season win totals and futures odds for the teams in the NL East, although things are subject to change given the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on sports.

Last season, it was the Atlanta Braves finishing atop the NL East with a record of 97 wins and 65 losses. Behind the Braves was the Nationals at 93-69. Washington had to play in the winner-take-all NL Wild Card Game against the Milwaukee Brewers and advanced with a 1-0 victory. The Braves got bounced in the Division Series by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Washington then went on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series, the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, and the Houston Astros in the World Series. The World Series itself was an incredible series. First, Washington went up 2-0 before Houston came back and won the next three games to make the series 3-2. Having to go on the road in Game 6 and Game 7, the Nationals did the unthinkable and won it all.

Despite winning the World Series last season, the Nationals aren’t the team with the most favored odds to win the championship this season. That is the Braves. In fact, at FanDuel Sportsbook, there are a handful of teams more favored or tied with the same odds as the Nationals to win the World Series.

*Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook as of July 2, 2020, and subject to change.

World Series odds for NL East teams

Atlanta Braves

I expect the 2020 MLB season to be unlike anything we’ve encountered. One regular-season game in 2020 is worth 2.7 games over a 162-game season. Pitching will be interesting to evaluate. I’ve talked with one current starting pitcher who thinks teams will not hesitate to use two starters in one game and we’ll also see bullpen games and the use of “openers” by more teams. Let’s not forget that COVID-19 will have a say about which players will be healthy enough to play in this 60-game sprint.

In the NL East, the Atlanta Braves will gun for their third straight division title after winning 97 games last season and posting a +112 run differential that was third in the NL behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Nationals. I expect the Braves to be in the mix to win the World Series this season.

Atlanta added starting pitcher Cole Hamels, reliever Will Smith, and outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who hit 37 home runs with the Miami Marlins just two seasons ago. The Braves lost third baseman Josh Donaldson.

The Atlanta offense is loaded with talent, featuring Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna, Ozuna, and others. With the addition of Smith, they boast one of the best bullpens in the game. Atlanta’s starting pitching will tell the tale with Hamels, Mike Foltynewicz, and Mike Soroka leading the rotation.

Washington Nationals

I covered the Washington Nationals as a reporter from 2005-2017, so of course the team finally gets over the hump and wins the World Series two seasons after I left.

The best rotation in MLB returns, as the Nationals boast Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin at the top of the lineup. The club added veteran reliever Will Harris from the Houston Astros, who has appeared in 60 games every season but one since 2015. Harris, Daniel Hudson, and Sean Doolittle make up a strong bullpen.

I cannot overstate how big of a loss that Anthony Rendon signing with the Los Angeles Angels will be. In addition to being one of the top-three defensive third basemen in the game, Rendon was fifth in the NL with a 6.4 WAR and he finished 2019 with a 154 WRC+. His loss will be felt.

The Nationals lineup is top-heavy with the foundation of Trea Turner, Victor Robles, and Juan Soto. Rookie Carter Keiboom will take Rendon’s spot at third base. The offense will do well, the bullpen has been fortified, and the rotation is as good as it gets. Washington can repeat if it avoids the same kind of let down that has plagued the team after successful seasons in the past.

New York Mets

The New York Mets are still in win-now mode after winning 86 games and a third-place finish last year. I think this team is in for a memorable 2020.

They’re expected to have Yoenis Cespedes back in the lineup for the first time since injuries cut his 2018 season short. The Mets also added to their disappointing bullpen, signing Dellin Betances to slot in behind closer Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo. General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen signed veteran starting pitchers Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. The big loss for New York was starting pitcher Zach Wheeler defecting to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bettors might overlook the Mets because Noah Syndergaard is out for the year with a torn UCL, but in a shortened season like this, New York’s beefed-up bullpen should help take the strain off of a rotation that boasts back-to-back NL Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom as well as Marcus Stroman and a stable of veterans with a track record of varying success.

The Mets offense might be the best in the division, with Jeff McNeil slamming 23 home runs to go along with a .916 OPS. McNeil will be followed by Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso, who became the first Met to hit 50 home runs. Add Michael Conforto, Wilson Ramos, and the DH of the day and you have a team that could lead the National League in scoring.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to finish above .500 for the first time since 2011 after an 81-81 record last year. Their biggest offseason acquisition was hiring manager Joe Girardi, whom the organization believes will get more out of his roster than Gabe Kapler was able to accomplish.

The Phillies offense will need to be much better in 2020. They finished 8th out of 15 teams in runs scored in 2019 and only Bryce Harper (4.2) and J.T. Realmuto (4.4) finished with WARs above 3.0. The good news for Phillies fans is that the club added Didi Gregorius to take over second base and a healthy Andrew McCutchen should be able to be a major contributor.

On the mound, the top of the rotation is strong with emerging ace Aaron Nola and the Phillies added Wheeler from the Mets. With Jake Arrieta in decline, the 3-5 spots in the rotation combine to be a sub-par unit. In the bullpen, the team invested heavily last year, finishing 21st in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.00.

I have a hard time believing that the additions of Girardi, Wheeler, and Gregorius will be enough to get this team over the .500 hump. The bullpen and rotation don’t have the kind of depth a team needs in this short season.

Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins continue their rebuild after finishing 57-105 and finishing last in the National League with -21.7 team wins above average.

There are a few reasons to watch Miami this season. The rotation boasts a pair of high-ceiling young arms in Caleb Smith and Sandy Alcantara, but the rest of the rotation will likely struggle.

The club swapped out veterans this season, signing Fransisco Cervelli, Jonathan Villar, and Corey Dickerson while saying adios to Starlin Castro, Martin Prado, and Wei-Yin Chen.

Marlins fans could see the next wave of prospects this season in centerfielder Monte Harrison and starting pitcher Sixto Sanchez, but outside of that, 60 games could feel like 160 by September.

2020 NL East picks and predictions: 

New York Mets over 32.5 wins

If you shop around, you can get the Mets right at 32 wins. New York has a top-three NL offense and with the weather already warmed up, I can envision the Mets hanging crooked numbers from the get-go.

The rotation is top-heavy, but teams will need depth and the Mets have it. The bullpen, especially Diaz, struggled last year, but the addition of Betances lengthens the middle-to-back end of games. Getting back to Diaz, he’s not as bad as his numbers were last season. Yes, he gave up a career-high 46% fly-ball rate while 26.8% went for home runs. His career-high was 14.7% as a rookie in 2016.

The Mets went 13-6 against Miami last season and while they won’t play the Marlins as many times this season, some low-hanging victories await. Getting 33 wins is exactly where I have the Mets win total ending up.

Atlanta Braves over 33.5 wins

Fanduel Sportsbook has a good line for this one because I see a lot of 34s and 34.5s. I’m not saying that Atlanta is going to run away with the division, because I think the Mets and Nationals will stay on them, but the Braves are the second-most balanced team in the NL behind the Dodgers.

Adding Hamels to anchor a young rotation works well in multiple ways, the most important being that he can give quality innings while being surrounded by young and talented arms such as Foltynewicz, Soroka, Max Fried, and Sean Newcomb. That’s depth and talent. The bullpen is deeper and more talented with the addition of Smith.

Offensively, the core of Freeman, Acuna, and Ozzie Albies is surrounded by more emerging talent and depth. I look for the Braves to win the NL East and battle the Dodgers for the most wins in all of the National League.

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