Why it’s a good bet to pick against Mets in NL East

I don’t think the Mets have as strong a hold on the NL East as most bookmakers do. The Mets’ odds to win the division are priced around -225 at most U.S. shops, but I think that’s way too high considering the schedule and the potential that Jacob deGrom could miss an extended period.

The Mets are an entirely different team without deGrom, and it will be more noticeable as we get closer to August. Comebacks against the Pirates and the Reds are one thing, but the Mets have a very tough schedule starting after their next homestand ends Aug. 1.

Beginning Aug. 2, they will have to run a gauntlet of opponents, potentially without deGrom, so we might see a much different picture in the NL East standings by Sept. 1.

The Mets have three off days in August. Starting Aug. 10, they will play 13 days in a row, hosting the Nationals and Dodgers and then visiting the Giants and Dodgers. After a single day off, they face another stretch of 14 games in 13 days against the Giants, Nationals and Marlins. The Mets face the Nationals 11 times between Aug. 10 and Sept. 6 and play 13 games with the Giants and Dodgers in that period. That is a tough schedule for any team, particularly one that could be missing its ace.

Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom
Bill Kostroun

Not only will the Nationals have a chance to make up significant ground on the Mets with all of their head-to-head games, but the Nationals finish the season with a month of games against the Braves, Pirates, Marlins, Rockies, Reds and Red Sox, with potentially only three of their last 25 games against opponents with records over .500.

For all these reasons, I bet the Nationals to win the NL East at 14/1 and to make the playoffs at 11/1 when those numbers were available at DraftKings.

DeGrom looked like a lock for the NL Cy Young and was the favorite for MVP, but NL MVP odds have been off the board for several days with the announcement deGrom is on the injured list again with a strained forearm.

I make deGrom’s MVP odds about zero percent right now, as it is incredibly unlikely he will pitch more than maybe 150 innings. With that workload, deGrom would win the Cy Young with the fewest innings by a starting pitcher in modern history. Blake Snell won it with 180, and Clayton Kershaw won with 198²/₃. I can’t see deGrom getting serious MVP consideration with only 150-160 innings, and it’s questionable whether that’s a large enough workload for him to even win the Cy Young.

Don’t sleep on Soto

One of the preseason MVP favorites had a quiet first half but is finally heating up. Washington’s Juan Soto was hitting .301/.420/.512 and was the first player in history with five home runs and 10 hits in his first four games after the All-Star break. Those numbers in Soto’s age 21-22 seasons put him in the same company as Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx.

With the Nationals’ favorable schedule, Soto’s MVP campaign is far from over. His odds were as high as 80/1 during the All-Star break, but I expect them to open much lower if and when any U.S. bookmakers get around to pricing the market. According to my internal MVP numbers, I make Soto the third favorite at +1699. I make Fernando Tatis Jr. +101 and Max Muncy +1598. I’d bet Soto at any odds above 20/1 when they are reposted, and I expect his odds to keep dropping.