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Major League Baseball is set to return Thursday, and this might be a big season for fans in Indiana, no matter for which team you root.

Depending on your geographical location in the state, the odds are that you root for one of three National League Central teams, or maybe the Chicago White Sox.

Of course, Evansville is staunchly St. Louis Cardinals country; but baseball is one of those sports that has supporters of all teams spread across America, so if you are a fan of the Nationals living in the Hoosier State, you will be starting the 2020 campaign looking for a second World Series title running.

Let us take a look at the NL Central, though, since most fans will probably be either a fan of the Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, or Cincinnati Reds.

With the various sports betting apps in Indiana, you can find value for each of the teams. William Hill  has this as the best race in all of baseball. Chicago (+230) is a very slight favorite over the Cardinals (+240) and the Reds (+260). But the Milwaukee Brewers (+320), who lost in last season’s Wild Card game to the Nationals, are also in with a shout.

The Cardinals made it to the NL Championship Series last season, but they too were swept away by Washington. But this season, with the 60-game schedule, any of the four teams (minus the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates) in the Central could find a way to win the division, or be one of the two wildcards.

If you want to figure out how close the books think these teams are, take a look at the over/under totals for the four. The Cubs (32.5) and Cardinals (32.5) both have the same number, with the Reds (31.5) and the Brewers (30.5) both within two games. The Pirates (25) have one of the lowest in baseball.

For White Sox fans, Chicago is +320 to win the AL Central (behind heavily favored Minnesota (-130) with an over/under of 31.5, according to the William Hill (Indiana app is live in August).

But perhaps bettors want to take those elements out of the equation, and just place a wager on a team to make the playoffs. Because the National League is so competitive, especially in the East and Central, and the season is so much shorter, you can get good odds on teams that you probably would not have gotten over a longer campaign.

The Reds are +115 to make the playoffs, and -135 to miss out on a spot, which are the same odds for the Cubs. The Cardinals actually have slightly longer odds (+125) to make the playoffs, and are -150 to not make the playoffs, which is interesting looking at the above odds. The Brewers are +200 to make it back to the postseason, and -250 not to do so.

Those odds get even tougher to decipher when you look at the ones to win the National League. St. Louis is the fifth favorite (+1000), ahead of the Reds and Cubs (both +1200) and the Brewers (+1500), according to the U.S. betting apps guide.

One thing that may factor into this shortened season is the ease of the schedule. The Reds play 14 of their first 25 games against the Tigers, Royals, and Pirates. A fast start might be key this season, and Cincinnati might be the team to watch after such a strong offseason.

PREDICTIONS:

Reds to make playoffs yes (+115)

Reds over 31.5 wins (-110)

Cardinals over 32.5 wins (-110)

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