Here’s our analysis of 2021 NL West Futures Bets, including Kev Mahserejian’s Best Pick & Sleeper Division Champion. Odds used for 2021 NL West Predictions of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants are provided courtesy of PointsBet, current as of Friday, Feb. 19.
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2021 NL West Futures Bets: Predictions, Picks & Sleeper
2021 NL West Title Odds
- Los Angeles Dodgers (-250)
- San Diego Padres (+200)
- San Francisco Giants (+4000)
- Colorado Rockies (+5000)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (+5000)
The NL West is a two-team race. Both teams made the playoffs last year and improved over the offseason. The reigning World Series champion Dodgers are the clear favorite while up-and-coming San Diego has made the moves necessary to compete with the best. Neither really lost any crucial pieces, and they overwhelmingly strengthened their rotations. The Dodgers added Trevor Bauer, and the Padres brought in Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove.
The top of this division will be a bloodbath, while the bottom, Arizona and Colorado, bonks itself on the head and watches. Penny-pinching has led to the Rockies making arguably the most egregious move in franchise history by trading franchise superstar Nolan Arenado along with $50 million to the Cardinals for prospects and salary relief. This follows the Diamondbacks, who trailblazed a similar path trading away Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals a season earlier. Both teams are looking down the barrel of mediocrity in 2021 (and possibly beyond).
However, a team smack-dab in the middle made some fascinating moves, which I will discuss below when thinking about a possible long-shot 2021 NL West Bet.
2021 NL West Prediction: Smart Money Wager
Los Angeles Dodgers (-250)
The Dodgers just won the World Series and decided that they should sign 2020’s Cy Young Award winner because there is no such thing as “good enough" for elite organizations. While Bauer does come with his off-field/online bugaboos, as an MLB starting pitcher he is great. At times he may be volatile and his 2019 is certainly a black mark but he has shown that pitching at a high level is not a fluke.
The top of their staff features three aces in Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and now, Trevor Bauer. On top of Bauer, the Dodgers re-signed crucial pieces in 3B Justin Turner and RP Blake Treinen, while also loading up their bullpen depth with setup man Corey Knebel. Not to mention the return of David Price, who opted out of 2020 is still under contract and could contribute to what should be a heavily load-managed season for the entire pitching staff.
This offense is filled from top-to-bottom with great hitters who can contribute by consistently getting on base and hitting home runs (staples of Moneyball). While former MVP Cody Bellinger is recovering from shoulder surgery, he can take his time to get back-on-track whether that be through an elongated slump or even time on the IL. The Dodgers have a recent top-10 prospect in Gavin Lux just hanging out on the bench with nowhere to play. Veteran utilityman Chris Taylor is holding down second base (Lux’s position) and the rest of the infield is occupied by championship contributors/silver slugger candidates.
This team is locked and loaded for another World Series run and are deservedly favorites for it and the division.
2021 NL West Prediction: Sleeper Pick
San Francisco Giants (+4000)
If you’re looking for anyone but the Dodgers to bet here, it’s their main rival, the San Francisco Giants. This may seem foolish given that they are not as talented as either of the top two teams but given their offseason and upper management, it could be a sneaky bet IF something were to happen to both LA and SD. The money to win at +4000 is massive and they were (unnoticeably) over .500 last year, just 8 games behind the Padres!
Farhan Zaidi stepped away from the Dodgers’ organization to helm San Francisco and innovate their entire organization towards the modern MLB. While things of this nature take time, Zaidi has made some significant improvements to the roster within the first two offseasons since his arrival. Their acquisition of SP Kevin Gausman is looking like a massive win after his bounce-back 2020 season in which he posted the highest strikeout rate of his career and actually underperformed his incredible peripherals. Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski also stepped up as older, out-of-nowhere contributors who look to make a similar impact this coming season.
This past offseason, they have not made a “splash" of sorts, but with Tommy La Stella, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, Aaron Sanchez, and Matt Wisler added, there is a chance of this team being much better than expected. If anything, taking the over on their win total may be wiser than this bet, but still, don’t sleep on SF in 2021.
Why Not the Padres?!
Betting on the Padres at +200 may seem wise until you look under the hood of their pitching staff. The hitting will be elite by all means with the versatile bench they possess to essentially replace production across-the-field. However, even with their incredible SP signings, this staff is still flawed.
Dinelson Lamet is claiming to be “100%" healthy but you really can’t take the word of a pitcher who just underwent a PRP injection in mid-October. He may feel healthy pitching in bullpen sessions at 80% or even 90% but what happens on game day when he can’t take anything off of his pitches? PRP injections in the elbow often foreshadow Tommy John and are essentially a delay in the process. Can’t bank much on him.
Yu Darvish has pitched a “full season" each year since 2019, but due to ineffectiveness/injury missed most of 2018 and has missed significant time in the past due to a litany of injuries. Blake Snell had loose bodies removed from his elbow in September 2019 and was dealing with “elbow soreness" in March 2020 but managed to pitch 50 regular-season innings and throughout the Rays’ World Series run.
While I do expect a bounce-back season from Chris Paddack and a strong showing from the Padres’ deep bullpen this season, if the SP dominoes fall, the team is exposed. MacKenzie Gore is the top pitching prospect in all of baseball but is so young and is likely not ready to contribute major innings just yet. The Padres are great and will have an awesome season, but using a 2021 NL West bet on them is not the wisest decision given just how likely it is that Los Angeles records their eighth-straight division title.
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