MLB Betting: How Ronald Acuna Jr.’s Injury Changes the NL Championship Picture

Baseball news


  • Acuna will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL tear
  • The Braves are fifteenth in the league in runs scored
  • LA has three former MVP winners in their lineup

The Braves have announced that a struggling Ronald Acuna Jr. will now miss the season with a torn ACL. It was a brutal blow for Atlanta Braves, who are struggling to overtake the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. While Acuna had gotten off to a rough start in 2024, his absence greatly alters’ the NL Championship picture.

Below, we will share how our US legal sports betting experts view the NL with Atlanta’s top bat out of the lineup. We’ll share the latest odds and insights, giving you everything you need to confidently bet on MLB futures using your favorite betting apps.

Updated Odds to Win NL Championship

Most betting sites have dropped the Braves odds to win the NL Championship after Acuna’s injury. Here are where the odds currently sit for the top five contenders:

Los Angeles Dodgers+150
Philadelphia Phillies+275
Atlanta Braves+400
Milwaukee Brewers+1800
Chicago Cubs+1800

Odds courtesy of BetMGM. Check out our full BetMGM Sportsbook review

How Acuna’s Injury Changes the Braves

The good news for Atlanta is that they have one of the deepest lineups in baseball. Marcell Ozuna is delivering one of his best seasons yet as he hits in the middle of a lineup that includes Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, and Austin Riley. That makes the heart of the lineup incredibly dangerous, even without Acuna hitting at the top of it. While Riely and Olson have both started slowing, we still expect both to finish with impressive numbers.

The biggest question will be how Michael Harris II handles taking over the role of leadoff hitter. The 23-year-old has been solid for Atlanta, but his .303 OBP is a major red flag. One thing Acuna did so well was getting on base, and the young outfielder hasn’t done that so far in 2024. As promising as a prospect as Harris is, it could take him time to develop into the star this team now needs.

While Acuna was struggling, bookmakers counted on him turning things around. That kept Atlanta as a favorite to win the NL despite ranking seventh in batting average (.251) and fifteenth in runs scored (238). Those are not even close to the numbers we expect from the Braves, which become more of a problem without the hope of an Acuna bounce back to bail them out.

Offensive struggles will be a major problem given the Braves' pitching. Max Fried, Chris Sale, and Reynaldo Lopez have been fantastic in the rotation, but the team also lost ace Spencer Strider for the season. As well as the staff has played without him, its unwise to trust Sale and Lopez to remain at this level (and healthy). If they regress, it could lead to a rough season for the Braves.

Why We Are Selling on the Braves

We expect the Atlanta offense to improve as Olson, Albies, and Riley find their groove. However, the Dodgers look like a far better team. Their lineup includes three former MVPs in Mookie Bets, Shohei Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman. They added a major bat in the offseason in Teoscar Hernandez and have developed a great offensive catcher in Will Smith.

We still aren’t sure that the Phillies are as good as they have shown, thanks to an incredibly easy schedule over the first two months. However, they already have a five-game lead over the Braves in the NL East. Their lineup is close to the level of the Acuna-less Braves, but their rotation has been incredible, thanks to Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suarez. We expect them to cool off over the summer but think they have the best chance to win the division.

While a longshot, the Cubs and Brewers could also now be a threat to the Braves. Milwaukee has been one of the best offensive teams in baseball, while the Cubs have the talent to be great.

Given the quality of the NL’s top teams, we are not willing to bet on the Braves to win the NL this season.