Some thoughts on the 2019 win total over-unders released Tuesday by BetOnline.ag:
Phillies ahead of Braves
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The Phillies are at 84.5, a game better than the Braves (83.5). The more I look at Atlanta's roster, the less confident I am in the Braves repeating their success of 2018.
Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr. are two of the top five position players in the division, and Josh Donaldson could be a key pickup if he stays healthy. But the Braves' rotation leaves a lot to be desired.
Their current rotation is Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint.
Foltynewicz appears to have figured things out, but Newcomb had a 4.58 ERA after the All-Star break, Teheran has alternated good and bad seasons every year since 2012, and Gausman was so much better in 10 starts with the Braves than he was in his 150 previous appearances as an Oriole. Some of that was the move to the NL. Some of it was luck.
There is just a lot of variance in the Braves' rotation and more of a chance for disappointment in a tough NL East.
What if the Phillies get a superstar?
The Phils' over-under would probably jump closer to the 87.5 or 88.5 range with the addition of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.
The Phillies won 80 games last season with a true talent level more so in the 75-win range. Even factoring in the luck they experienced in 2018, the additions of Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson should improve the Phils by six or seven wins, especially considering the defensive upgrades the two position players provide.
So, again, if you're confident the Phillies will land one of the superstars, you should act now.
The Dodgers, to me, are not a 95-win team, nor are they a dozen games better than each of their division rivals. Los Angeles' current number is 94.5, followed by the Rockies at 82.5, the Padres at 78.5, the Diamondbacks at 77.5 and the Giants at 73.5.
The Dodgers' lineup, though, doesn't present the same danger as recent seasons. Here is their projected opening day lineup:
Joc Pederson, LF
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Cody Bellinger, 1B
Max Muncy, 2B
Chris Taylor, CF
Alex Verdugo, RF
Austin Barnes, C
Good? Sure. Great? No. The Dodgers will beat up on their division, but this is not a clearly better team than the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers or Rockies.
It's also why I expect the Dodgers to be heard from again with Harper or Machado. Simply winning the NL West isn't their goal, and the Dodgers are not currently constructed to beat AL contenders like the Astros, Red Sox and Yankees.
The over bets I like the most belong to the Rockies (82.5) and Brewers (84.5).
This is the best starting rotation the Rockies have ever had. The 2018 success of groundball specialist Kyle Freeland and the extraordinary German Marquez was not fluky. Both should build on that productivity in 2019.
Marquez very quietly dominated in the second half, posting a 2.61 ERA with 124 strikeouts and 20 walks in 93 innings. The numbers of an elite pitcher, and even Coors Field couldn't stand in his way.
Freeland, a Denver native, is uniquely qualified to conquer the conditions of his home park. He went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 202 innings. If rotation-mate Jon Gray, who probably has the best pure stuff in the group, can ever get on track, look out.
The Rockies lost DJ LeMahieu but added Daniel Murphy, who has the ability to hit .340 this season if he can stay healthy.
I like the Rockies to not just hit the over, but to win the division, barring a Dodgers signing of Harper or Machado.
The Brewers' total of 84.5 is surprisingly low given their talent level and the expected return of top-of-rotation-arm Jimmy Nelson, who did not pitch in 2018. Their number is this low, I'm assuming, because of the Cardinals' addition of Paul Goldschmidt, a true difference-maker. But outside of Goldy, the Brewers just have more offense and much more bullpen talent.
The rotation is Milwaukee's big question mark, but a team built this way will likely add to the starting staff either this offseason or ahead of the trade deadline. Put Madison Bumgarner or Dallas Keuchel on this Milwaukee roster and the bar would definitely rise.
As of now, it's Cardinals 88.5 and Brewers 84.5. Should be vice versa.
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