Here’s our analysis of 2021 NL East Futures Bets, including Juan Carlos Blanco’s Best Pick & Sleeper Division Champion. Odds used for 2021 NL East Bets and Predictions for the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals are provided courtesy of BetMGM, current as of Tuesday, Feb. 17.
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2021 NL East Futures Bets: Predictions, Picks & Sleeper
2021 NL East Title Odds
- Atlanta Braves (+130)
- New York Mets (+170)
- Washington Nationals (+650)
- Philadelphia Phillies (+650)
- Miami Marlins (+1600)
The Braves unsurprisingly captured the NL East title in 2020 with a solid 35-25 mark. However, they got plenty of unexpected competition from a Miami Marlins squad that was believed to have little chance of escaping the bottom of the division before the abbreviated campaign began. Miami finished just four games behind Atlanta with a 31-29 mark and swept the Cubs in the NL Wild Card Series before dropping three straight to the Braves in the next round.
The Phillies (28-32), Mets (26-34), and Nationals (26-34) rounded out the NL East, with all three clubs underperforming expectations. Key injuries affected all three teams to varying degrees, and each squad’s offseason shopping is currently projected to vault them all past the surprising Marlins in the coming season.
2021 NL East Title: Smart Money Prediction
New York Mets (+170)
While the leap to division champion for a team that finished eight games under .500 the prior year may seem far-fetched on the surface, the combination of the Mets’ holdover talent, offseason acquisition of Francisco Lindor and one potentially game-changing midseason addition in the form of the recovering Noah Syndergaard (elbow) changes the equation significantly.
New York returns the likes of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto in 2021. McNeil and Smith particularly took major steps forward at the plate in 2020, while Conforto produced a career-best .322 average and .412 on-base percentage across 233 plate appearances despite seeing a slight increase in strikeout rate and a drop in walk rate. With an expected full 162-game season on tap, all six players could maximize their potential.
Then there are the newcomers. Jonathan Villar could prove an excellent veteran addition on the cheap, given his ability to play multiple infield and outfield spots and his switch-hitting capabilities. Villar underperformed while splitting time between the Marlins and Blue Jays last season, but he generated a .274/.339/.453 with a career-best 24 home runs and 73 RBI while playing all 162 games for the Orioles in 2019.
Lindor is naturally the crown jewel of New York’s offseason, who should be back to offering 30-homer, 90-to-100-RBI upside if he plays a full season, as well as Gold Glove defense. The 27-year-old is also known as an excellent clubhouse presence that should be a seamless fit within the Mets’ existing collection of impressive young talent.
Syndergaard’s absence to start the season is a negative, but Jacob deGrom certainly fits the bill of staff ace, and the addition of Carlos Carrasco via the Lindor trade to fill the No. 2 role in the rotation for the time being could prove to be a pivotal one.
The hard-throwing right-hander proved plenty in 2020 after a blood disorder disrupted 2019, as Carrasco posted a 2.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and elite 28.8 percent strikeout rate across 12 starts. If Marcus Stroman can recapture his 2019 form and Joey Lucchesi can put a forgettable 2020 behind him, New York could have plenty to hold them over until Syndergaard returns.
Finally, the bullpen has a chance to be dominant, with the likes of Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, Trevor May and a closer in Edwin Diaz who bounced back in impressive fashion last season after a disastrous ’19.
2021 NL East Winner: Sleeper Bet
Washington Nationals (+650)
The Nationals often looked lost last season following their 2019 World Series title, with key injuries and COVID-19 absences playing a significant role in their demise. Stephen Strasburg made only two starts in 2020 before being shut down with carpal tunnel neuritis, while Juan Soto missed 13 games overall due to coronavirus and an elbow issue. Max Scherzer was also more hittable than in past years, posting his highest ERA (3.74) since 2011 and a career-high 1.38 WHIP.
However, the Nats are hoping all of those issues are considered to be firmly in the rearview mirror as the 2021 campaign approaches. Strasburg had resumed throwing by mid-December and is expected to be ready for spring training.
Soto finished as the NL batting champion last season despite the aforementioned hiccup and could be in for another career campaign with a 162-game platform to operate with.
Scherzer could bounce back to his dominant form with a normal build-up to the regular season and once again form part of a lethal 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with a healthy Strasburg.
Additionally, offseason addition Jon Lester, despite his 2020 struggles in Chicago, could make for an excellent fourth starter if he’s able to recapture the groove that saw him post seven consecutive double-digit-win seasons from 2013-19.
Fellow southpaw and rotation holdover Patrick Corbin could be set for a similar resurgence after posting a 2-7 record and 4.66 ERA last season – Corbin had a combined 39-27 mark over the previous three seasons and sub-4.00 ERAs in two of them.
With the reliable Brad Hand installed as the new closer, Washington has what should be a highly trusted ninth-inning option in place as well. A group of solid relievers led by Daniel Hudson and Will Harris will precede the veteran, with Hudson especially looking to prove his inflated 6.10 ERA from a season ago was an outlier.
Considering Soto is joined in the lineup by the likes of Trea Turner (.335/.394/.588 across 259 plate appearances in ’20), the promising Victor Robles and offseason additions Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber, the Nats have more than enough pop to take a flier on them surpassing the likes of the Braves and the Nets for the division crown.
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