Ahead of the 2021 MLB season, I think this is a great year to dive into win total prop bets. A few teams in flux and a top-heavy standings has created a great opportunity.
Note: All over/under totals were pulled from DraftKings
Chicago Cubs (78.5)
The Cubs took advantage of the 60-game schedule in 2020 to make the postseason for the fifth time in 2020. They traded away their ace (Yu Darvish), leaving them with one trusted starting arm (Kyle Hendricks). The back-end of the rotation will be up and down. Chicago lacks dominating arms with no immediate help at the top of their minor league system.
Their offense has the talent to bash plenty of home runs. I have them projected for 220 bombs with seven players hitting 18 or more.
This team will feast or famine in 2021, leading to stretches with many losses. Their starters will have too many bad innings due to their inability to strike out key batters. I don't see an impactful bullpen. Based on my early projections, the Cubs will rank 11th in team ERA.
BET: UNDER 78.5 wins
Pittsburgh Pirates (58.5)
Heading into 2021, the Pirates have the worst offense in baseball. I have them hitting only 136 home runs, with Bryan Reynolds leading the way with 21 long balls.
They are projected to have the highest ERA in the National League while only offering one upside arm (Mitch Keller). Their bullpen will battle walks and home runs. Closer Richard Rodriguez may be traded over the summer if he is pitching well.
With nine teams in the National League having a chance to win more games than they lose, Pittsburgh will struggle to deliver wins all season.
BET: UNDER 58.5 wins
Los Angeles Dodgers (102.5)
The Dodgers have strength and depth in their starting rotation. They could lose an arm or two, and their win train would stay on the tracks.
Los Angeles has the bullpen talent to shorten games, especially if Corey Knebel regains his elite form from 2017. I have the core 10 pitchers projected for a 3.04 ERA and 1,404 strikeouts over 1,231.2 innings.
Offensively, LA looks poised to hit 250+ home runs (279 in 2019 and 118 over 60 games in 2020), as long as Cody Bellinger is recovered from his offseason should issue.
Los Angeles has enough extra pitching pieces to make a midseason trade for a bat if they have an injury.
The Dodgers will win a minimum of two-thirds of their games, making the over being the right side of the play.
BET: OVER 102.5 wins
Detroit Tigers (68.5)
In early January, the Tigers' offense looked dismal, which pointed to a long losing season. The signings of C Wilson Ramos, 2B Jonathan Schoop, and OF Nomar Mazara added power and length to their starting lineup. I don't see an explosive offense, but Detroit will score runs when hitting home runs.
They have three young arms (Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning) who all offer front of the rotation upside. Each arm will get a chance this season, and they will improve with more experience. The Tigers may bridge the gap with multiple veterans but squirrelly arms (Julio Teheran and Derek Holland).
Detroit's bullpen isn't ideal, which will lead to many blown leads.
The combination of developing arms and sneaky power will lead to the Tigers winning more than 68.5 games.
BET: OVER 68.5 wins
Cleveland Baseball (81.5)
Over the previous eight seasons, Cleveland posted a winning record while relying on their pitching staff for success. They lost Trevor Bauer in the offseason, but Shane Bieber remains one of the game's top arms. Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, and Triston McKenzie will give Cleveland many quality starts.
The bullpen has a chance to be special if Emmanuel Clase or James Karinchak seize the ninth-inning role.
The combination of Eddie Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario, and Johs Naylor should more than compensate for the loss of Francisco Lindor.
Cleveland will win with pitching, and their offense should be better than expected in 2021. I expect them to win 82 games or more with a chance to lead the American League in ERA.
BET: OVER 81.5 wins
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