Newly crowned as the most expensive team in all of baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the heavy favorites to not only capture their first National League pennant in 26 years, but also the World Series.
Don Mattingly’s club inked starting pitcher and reigning-Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw to a mega seven-year, $215 million deal this past winter, and pushed well passed the American League’s New York Yankees with an incredible $239 million payroll for 2014.
L.A. also added relief pitchers Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell and Chris Perez to bolster a bullpen that was already fourth in the NL in saves but ninth in ERA at 3.49.
The extra funds, along with a full year for star Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig, are expected to get the Dodgers over the NLCS hump. Since 2008, L.A.’s made the NLCS three of the last six times but never won.
The Dodgers come in at 1/2 odds to win the NL West, followed by the defending NL champion St. Louis Cardinals at 2/3 to snag the NL Central for a second straight year, and the Washington Nationals at 5/7 in the NL East just ahead of the Atlanta Braves at 3/2, according to Bovada.lv.
Washington fell flat last season after winning its first division title in 2012 since moving and rebranding from Montreal. They fired Davey Johnson to bring in first-time manager Matt Williams. How Williams handles rising star Bryce Harper and the often controversial innings count of starter Stephen Strasburg will be key factors for the Nats.
The Cardinals lost playoff hero Carlos Beltran to the Yankees, but still have Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday in the heart of the lineup, and added shortstop Johnny Peralta to the middle infield. They still maintain arguably the best starting rotation in the NL with Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia.
Washington Nationals (5/7)
Atlanta Braves (3/2)
Philadelphia Phillies (10/1)
New York Mets (16/1)
Miami Marlins (33/1)
St. Louis Cardinals (2/3)
Cincinnati Reds (7/2)
Pittsburgh Pirates (15/4)
Milwaukee Brewers (10/1)
Chicago Cubs (33/1)
Los Angeles Dodgers (1/2)
San Francisco Giants (7/2)
Arizona Diamondbacks (7/1)
San Diego Padres (10/1)
Colorado Rockies (16/1)
Wild Card: Cincinnati and Atlanta
NLCS: Dodgers over Cardinals