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The National League: Home of the champs

With the 2021 season about to throw out the first pitch, the Cloudbet Blog is previewing the two conferences, the National League and the American League, before play starts.

Here we look at the three divisions in the National League, home to last year’s World Series champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The NL also houses the San Diego Padres, the team that the Cloudbet Blog will be focussed on this year as a way to provide readers with an understanding of the nuances of the game - and then look to use that information to help scope out value in MLB bitcoin betting markets that Cloudbet has to offer.

Cloudbet’s leading crypto sportsbook also has a wide range of outrights markets with enough scope to satisfy any fan looking to back their team. We’ll explore some of them as we go.

Of course, we’ll also have markets on every individual game, so be sure to use Cloudbet for all your bitcoin betting on the MLB. All odds quoted here are correct at the time of writing, but please check the live site for the latest numbers.

For readers who may be newer to the sport, the 2021 season is reverting to the traditional 162-game season, after which the post-season sees the winner of each division advance, while the next two best teams in each conference play-off to make up the final eight.

So, four teams on each side of the bracket that face off against each other in best-of-five divisional series before progressing to the best-of-seven conference series. The final, the World Series, also has the potential to go seven games.

But as the season starts, all that may seem a long way off.

The easiest way to win a World Series is by winning your division first - and that’s where we’ll start. With the division that’s likely to garner the most attention, from the media and fans alike.

NL West

Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers

As mentioned, Cloudbet will be following the fortunes of the San Diego Padres for the 2021 season as we explore the finer points of baseball in an effort, ultimately, to make sharper betting decisions as the season progresses.

What makes the NL West so exciting this year is the fact that we could be watching the establishment of one of baseball’s fiercest rivalries for years to come, as the Padres and Dodgers - two teams who a lot of people believe can both win 100 games - face off for the right to avoid a Wild Card shootout to decide their post-season fate.

Incidentally, the regular season win percentage market on the Dodgers has been set at Over/Under 62, while on the Padres it’s at Over/Under 59. (the same markets are available on all 30 MLB teams.) The Padres regular season win market is set at Over/Under 94.5 (1.90 both sides), while the same market for the Dodgers is at Over/Under 103.5 (also 1.90 both sides).

The Dodgers are stacked, having only lost Kike Hernandez and Joc Pedersen in free agency, before adding Trevor Bauer to their rotation. The Dodgers had baseball’s leading offense in 2020 and, in all likelihood, will continue this year as the season progresses. If the Bauer risk doesn’t pay off though, the Dodgers will need their bullpen - which is the focus of a lot of, quite honestly, hard-to-find doubt - to really perform and tally up the innings every five days.

In San Diego, the hope is that finding extra aces to supplement the pitching staff in an effort to ensure that they are as defensively solid as their all-firing ‘Slam Diego’ nine at the plate.

It’s been a period of unexpected growth that’s landed them here, too. Fernando Tatis’ defensive work was questionable this time 12 months ago. Now he’s seen as the second-best shortstop in all of baseball. Jake Cronenworth came out of absolutely nowhere to become a staple at second base, and with pitchers Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and a returning Dinelson Lamet coming in to aid them, the Padres could genuinely win this division after years of stagnation and failed attempts to make the leap.

The Giants have made strides after the post-World Series down years, but they can’t be expected to contest and should fall slightly below the .500 mark - while the Diamondbacks and Rockies have to accept they won’t be relevant in the West for a considerable amount of time.

In the NL West winner market, the Dodgers are favoured quite heavily at 1.33, over the Padres at 2.93. Proving that this really is a two-horse race, the Diamondbacks are next at 44.9, the Giants are on 48.3 and Rockies 63.5.

Padres Six Shooter

Every month Cloudbet will offer a special promotion linked to the San Diego Padres, and we start through April with the Padres Six Shooter, where we'll grade a pre-game money line bet a win if the Padres score 6 but still lose. Terms and conditions apply.

Opening a Cloudbet account has never been easier - all you need to get started is a credit or debit card, or Apple pay - or deposit any one of the nine cryptocurrencies available for use, including BTC, BCH, ETH, LINK, PAX, PAXG, USDT, USDC or DAI. Make Cloudbet your go-to site for betting with crypto on the MLB.

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds

The NL Central is going to be the most fun division to watch because it’s genuinely got four teams that could claim divisional honours. The fifth, the Pittsburgh Pirates, are really going to struggle - and that's reflected in the odds.

So let’s look at the four that will compete: the Cardinals, Reds, Cubs and Brewers.

St Louis are often considered lucky because they find ways to win games, but that comes down to experience and a ball club legacy that expects nothing different and them simply having an edge that many other teams don’t in the major leagues.

The Cards added Nolan Arenado in a trade with Colorado recently, which pairs him with Paul Goldschmidt - making that 3-4 swing a very tough outing for a starting pitcher.

A lot of their success will depend on the fortunes of Jack Flaherty, who will be a Cy Young contender should he resemble his 2019 self rather than the version we saw last year.

For Cincinnati, the major elephant in the room is that they no longer have Trevor Bauer, and yet could still win this division because they can pretty much pencil in a win every time Luis Castillo takes to the mound for longer than six innings. Votto and Suarez had relative down years in 2020, but we know they’re both too good to keep quiet, and the return to a 162-game season will only amplify that.

Chicago needs a farewell send-off for their superstars who broke the curse and finally landed a World Series for the Cubs a few years back. The Championship window is very much closing there and while some of the elder statesmen will light up Wrigley Field on a semi-regular basis, the pitching roster just doesn’t quite cut the mustard enough to see them win 90 games.

For Milwaukee, it begins and ends with the form of 2018 MVP Christian Yelich. He was poor last year like so many form hitters, but pairing him with Keston Hiura gives them a fear factor for opposing pitchers to navigate. Whether or not they have the talent to keep up with the three teams above them is going to depend on overperformances rather than grounded expectations.

In the NL Central winner market, the Cardinals lead with odds of 2.21, followed by the Brewers (3.48), Reds (4.51) and Cubs (5.62) - with the Pirates languishing at 78.

In a division that looks like it's going to be tight, there may be some value in taking positions on whether or not a team makes the playoffs: Yes for the Reds pays 2.91; Yes for the Cubs pays 4.30.

Cloudbet's best odds and zero margin offers

Cloudbet is offering the best odds available anywhere online for Opening Day.

Don't take our word for it - check out the comparisons against the competition on winner, run spread and total runs markets. To illustrate, here's just the winner market from the Petco Park opener where the NL's own Padres take on the Diamondbacks.

On Opening Day, we're also offering three games at zero margin - meaning no vig, no juice on your bets

NL East

Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals

Oh, baby.

For all that we envision the NL West being the premiere two-horse race, the NL East might be equally as competitive. In fact, four of the top six favourites to win a World Series this year come from those two divisions.

But we’ll start at the other end of the scale with the Phillies.

The problem for Philly is that, well, they’ve got good pieces - they just don’t have enough of them. And in baseball, one easy out is the difference between justifying paying for top-end players and wasting your money.

Harper and Realmuto are the leading lights and Nola/Wheeler is a fine top-of-the-rotation pairing. It’s just that, well, everything else screams that they can’t keep up with the frontrunners.

If you’re into win total bets, then the Miami Marlins are the toughest evaluation of the lot - they could be miles above the projection... or miles below. It’s all to do with how their youth develop and emerge over the course of 2021. At the moment, that Marlin market sits at Over/Under 71.5, with the under favoured.

If Starling Marte is your most consistent hitter, you could be in trouble. Their pitchers have the ability to win them a lot of games, but ultimately they won’t be able to keep pace simply because of the inconsistent at-bats that come with younger hitters.

How much better are the Nationals than the Phillies and the Marlins? Well, that depends largely on health. Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin are terrific pitchers in their own right, it’s just the need for them to stay available. Brad Hand was a clever acquisition who can save games as a closer, but it’s the bridge between starter and Hand that can really cause concern.

As much as we’d love to give a boost to Mets fans and say they’ll win the NL East - there’s no degree of confidence that allows us to offer that.

Of course, the acquisition of All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor is the headline, but adding James McCann was sneaky good. If Syndergaard can come back to a team in or around .500, they’ve a chance. But they’ll only manage that if Marcus Stroman is healthy… And that will only matter if Diaz can confirm his brilliance - and if Pete Alonso isn’t just a flash in the pan.

That's a lot of ifs.

You know who doesn't have a lot of ifs this year? The Braves.

Atlanta brought the Dodgers all the way last year despite their rotation resembling a car crash. Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly are in the door - and Marcell Ozuna is back. Adding him to Freeman and Acuna ensures there’s a nightmare trilogy of outs for some pitchers this year, too.

Can Christian Pache hit .270? Who plays third base? It seems Atlanta may be more positive in answering those questions come midseason... en route to a title.

In the NL East winners market, the Braves are favoured - but only just, according to the odds - at 2.34, to the Mets at 2.40, followed by some way by the Nationals (6.82), Phillies (9.11) and the Marlins (19.4).

Pre-season Winners market

At the time of writing, these are the current Cloudbet odds on the MLB World Series winner market. Be sure to check the site for the latest odds available.

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Apr 1, 2021

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