Can the up-and-coming San Diego Padres pull off the impossible by beating out the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West?
Will a re-energized Washington Nationals team that won it all two years ago send a message to the Atlanta Braves that they are going to be LA’s top challenger in the National League?
Will Philadelphia beat out a revamped New York Mets ballclub that has World Series hopes this season (for real)?
Who’s winning the NL Central rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs?
Last, but not least, can the talent-laden Braves finally make the leap to become World Series participants by getting past a Dodgers team that dashed their title hopes last season?
With the 2021 MLB regular season set to get underway on April 1, let’s look at the top five rivalries in the NL this coming campaign so you can bet against their MLB odds.
Biggest NL Rivalry Games in the 2021 MLB Calendar
LA Dodgers Vs San Diego Padres
Los Angeles (43-17) beat out San Diego (37-23) for the NL West title by six games. The Dodgers won the regular season series 6-4 and added some insult to injury by dispatching the Padres 3-0 in the NLDS before ultimately going on to win the 2020 World Series.
The longtime NL West rivals meet for the first time in 2021 on April 16 with the Padres hosting the Dodgers in a three-game set. Both teams made some huge offseason additions that will take this rivalry to an entirely new level. San Diego signed blossoming superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. to a massive 14-year $350 million deal. The Padres also made a trade with Tampa Bay for 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell while acquiring veteran right-hander Yu Darvish and backup catcher Victor Caratini in a deal with the Cubs.
Los Angeles added reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer in free agency and re-signed Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Walker Buehler and Justin Turner. San Diego finished the 2020 season ranked third in scoring (5.42 rpg) and an impressive seventh in team ERA (3.87). Los Angeles finished a spectacular first in scoring (5.82 rpg) and team ERA (3.02).
Atlanta Braves Vs Washington Nationals
Atlanta went 35-25 to win the NL East by four games over Miami while Washington went 26-34 to finish fourth in the division while suffering a typical World Series hangover. The Braves won the regular season series 6-4, but Washington scored at least seven runs in all four of their wins and an identical 10 runs in two of those victories. Atlanta re-signed outfielder Marcell Ozuna while signing veteran hurlers Josh Tomlin, Drew Smyly and Charlie Morton.
Washington added veteran left-fielder Kyle Schwarber, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman right-hander Brad Hand and lefty Jon Lester in free agency while re-signing shortstop Trae Turner, left-fielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell. Atlanta finished the 2020 campaign ranked a stellar second in scoring (5.80 rpg) and 15th in team ERA (4.41). Washington finished last season ranked 10th in scoring (4.88 rpg) and 26th in team ERA (5.09). The two NL East rivals will meet for the first time in 2021 on April 5 when the Nationals host the Braves for a three-game set.
Philadelphia Phillies Vs New York Mets
The Phillies went 28-32 last season to finish third in the NL East, seven games behind Atlanta. New York went 26-34 to finish tied for last place in the NL East alongside Washington. Philly won the regular season series 6-4 and made a series of modest offseason additions by acquiring veteran right-hander Jose Alvarado in trade with Tampa Bay while adding right-hander Archie Bradley, shortstop Didi Gregorius and DH Brad Miller in free agency.
The Mets added veteran starter Taijuan Walker and traded for shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco in a trade with Cleveland. New York also signed veteran catcher James McCann and right-hander Trevor May in free agency. New York finished the 2020 season ranked 13th in scoring (4.77 rpg) and 22nd in team ERA (4.98). Philadelphia ranked a phenomenal fifth in scoring last season (5.10 rpg), but an awful 27th in team ERA (5.14). The two longtime NL East rivals will square off on Opening Day in the City of Brotherly Love.
Chicago Cubs Vs St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago went 34-26 to win the NL Central title by three games over St. Louis (30-28). The Cubs ranked an uninspiring 20th in scoring (4.42 rpg) and an encouraging 10th in team ERA (3.99). St. Louis finished 24th in scoring (4.14 rpg) and ninth in team ERA (3.90).
The longtime rivals split their 10-game series evenly last season. Chicago added former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, right-handers Brandon Workman and Andrew Chafin and center fielder Joc Pederson in free agency. The Cubs also got right fielder Owen Caissie, shortstop Reginald Preciado and starting pitcher Zac Davies in a trade with San Diego for right-hander Yu Darvish.
St. Louis brought back veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright and veteran catcher Yadier Molina in free agency while signing superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado in free agency. St. Louis and Chicago will meet for the first time in 2021 on May 21 in St. Louis in a three-game set.
Atlanta Braves Vs LA Dodgers
Atlanta went 35-25 to win the NL East by four games while Los Angeles went 43-17 to finish atop the NL West standings. More importantly, the Dodgers got past Atlanta in the National League Championship Series 4-3. Los Angeles was down 3-1 before ripping off three straight wins to reach – and win – the 2020 World Series. The defending champs will meet the NL East champs for the first time in 2021 in Hotlanta on June 4, for a three-game series.