The Cubs have compiled four consecutive 90-win seasons and return most of their team that went 95-68 last season. But Las Vegas oddsmakers, sharp bettors and, most notably, Baseball Prospectus expect Chicago to take a step back this season.
Caesars Entertainment sportsbook posted the ever-popular baseball season win totals in January. The Cubs opened at 89 and climbed as high as 92½ before sharp action drove the number to 88. Chicago also has dipped from 89½ to 88½ at the Westgate and is at 87½ at William Hill.
“We’re getting a lot of money on the under, which is very unusual because the Cubs are a very public team,” Westgate sportsbook manager Randy Blum said.
Blum theorized that a big reason bettors are suddenly down on Chicago is because of Baseball Prospectus’ popular PECOTA projections, which forecasts the Cubs to finish last in the National League Central with a 79-83 record.
“They keep flashing that PECOTA projection on (ESPN) SportsCenter and the MLB Network,” Blum said. “I’m not impressed with their pitching. Jon Lester is an older pitcher, and Yu Darvish has been hurt.”
The PECOTA computer system projects the Brewers to top the NL Central with 88 wins, followed by the Cardinals (86), Reds (81) and Pirates (80).
“It’s more of a product of the NL Central probably being baseball’s most competitive division, top to bottom,” Caesars Entertainment sportsbook risk manager Jeff Davis said. “There’s no doormat in that division anymore.”
That’s one reason Caesars expects the Brewers to regress this season after going 96-67 in 2018. Milwaukee’s total opened at 85 and climbed as high as 90½ before settling at 87.
Blum bet the Brewers to go under 87½.
“I don’t like the Brewers pitching staff at all,” he said. “They can’t use relievers all the time like they did down the stretch last year.
“I think winning 90 games is a stretch.”
The Diamondbacks lost their best hitter (Paul Goldschmidt) and one of their top pitchers (Patrick Corbin). But wiseguys at the Westgate wagered on Arizona to go over its total of 73½, pushing it to 75½.
“Nobody involved in making the numbers liked the Diamondbacks,” Blum said. “But we had a pretty respected group in town come in and bet the Diamondbacks.”
Sharp bettors at Caesars also wagered over on the Rockies (85½) and Mets (85½) and under on the Red Sox (94½), Dodgers (93), Blue Jays (74) and Marlins (65½).
Miami finished 63-98 last season and is still in rebuilding mode in a loaded NL East with the Mets, Phillies (89), Nationals (89) and Braves (86).
“All the other NL East teams have improved,” Davis said. “The Marlins are kind of the sore thumb. They might be this year’s Orioles.”
Then again, the Orioles, who finished 47-115 last season, might be this year’s Orioles. Their win total is a paltry 58½, believed to be a record low.
“Their number is so low that sharp guys don’t like going under a total in the 50s and the public doesn’t want to go over on a team that bad,” Davis said.
Baltimore has to play more than a third of its games against the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays, who combined for 298 wins last season.
Top of the heap
The Yankees are tied with the Astros for the highest win total at 96½. The Westgate has taken a lot of over money on the Yankees but hasn’t moved the number.
“That’s about as high as you can go on any of these teams,” Blum said. “It’s crazy when you ask a team to win 100 games to cover an over.”
Baseball season win totals
Posted at Westgate sportsbook
Red Sox 94½
White Sox 74
Blue Jays 74