Nationals' odds to win NL East, pennant, World Series entering 2021 season

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Nationals' odds to win NL East, pennant, World Series in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When the Washington Nationals take the field for their first game of the season on Thursday, they’ll not only be trying to beat the New York Mets but they’ll also be trying to beat the odds.

The Mets, along with the Atlanta Braves, are favored ahead of the Nats to win the NL East division, according to PointsBet Sportsbook. 

Atlanta, the division’s three-time reigning champion, is favored to finish first once again at +115. The Mets have the second-best odds at +140 to win the division for the first time since 2015. They’re followed by the Nats at +650, Philadelphia Phillies at +1000 and Miami Marlins at +1800.

The Nationals last won the division in 2017, which also happened to be the last year of their string of playoff disappointments. So, if there’s any team that knows winning the division isn’t everything, it’s the Nationals. From 2012 to 2017, they won the NL East four times, only to lose their first playoff series each time. When Washington finally broke through for its first World Series championship, it came as a division runner-up.

Still, being one of the best teams over the course of 162 games, rather than getting hot at the right time, almost always guarantees an entry into the postseason. After missing the playoffs in 2020, the Nationals addressed several holes on the roster to give themselves a chance, adding power to the lineup with first baseman Josh Bell and outfielder Kyle Schwarber, another proven arm to the rotation with veteran lefty Jon Lester, and a reliable bullpen arm with three-time all-star Brad Hand.

They hope those additions combined with the mostly intact core of the title team is enough to keep them contention. However, oddsmakers don’t think it’s enough to keep up with the stacked teams of the national league. 

The over/under for Washington’s win total is set at 84.5 (-110), sixth in the NL behind the Dodgers, Padres, Braves, Mets and Cardinals. Essentially, the Nationals are expected to hover somewhere around .500 and barely miss out on the postseason. At +130, their odds to make the playoffs are fifth-best of the NL teams given odds on PointsBet Sportsbook. Ahead of them are the same cast of teams just mentioned, with only the reigning World Series champion Dodgers (favored to win it all again) not listed, as they’re almost assumed to make it back to the playoffs.

With it no longer a given for the Nationals to simply qualify for the playoffs, the odds are further stacked against them when considering anything further. They’re tied for only the seventh-best odds at +2000 to win the NL, with the Cincinnati Reds joining the previously mentioned teams ahead of them. And Washington is tied with just the 13th-best odds to win the World Series at +3000. 

Odds provided by our partner, PointsBet