In this preview, and with an MLB restart on the horizon, we take a look at the Cy Young trophy awards.
Slowly but surely, sports in the U.S. are beginning to come back in some capacity. NASCAR is gearing up to start those engines, the PGA is ready to tee off and Major League Baseball is rounding the bases on a proposal that could bring the sport back to our screens sooner rather than later.
The owners have approved a plan, that, if agreed by the player’s association, would mean the start of an 82-game season beginning on the 4th of July. Apropos in some way, that the return of America’s pastime could come on America’s birthday. So that plan, which includes a potential of teams playing geographical competition to avoid the use of planes and rather just team buses, a 14-team playoff (current playoff format was 10 teams) and the DH in both the AL and NL, is with the players, waiting that final approval.
While the two sides still seem to be at odds over the financial implication on salaries for a half-season, this plan being on the table is the closest we have come in months to being able to say there may still be baseball in 2020.
With the return of the MLB season, no matter its length, awards based on statistical performance will still need to be bestowed. That includes the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, MVP, Home Run King, gold gloves, silver sluggers et al.
If the players are not onside then it will be back to the drawing board to try to figure out a solution that works for everybody. In the meantime, while we wait for the MLB to make some decisions, USAbetting wanted to break down some of the marquee awards races starting with the Cy Youngs.
Before we get into the discussion of who the best pitcher will be, we wanted to acknowledge a caveat. If the proposed MLB plan to play 82 games goes through, with a five-man rotation, that means each starting pitcher will only get 15 or 16 games to impress. So really, these two awards are going to be won or lost on a small sample size. Normally, pitchers can rebound from tough starts to win the award but that may not be the case in 2020. That said, let’s dig into the odds with the online offshore betting sites for USA players.
NL Cy Young Award Picks & Predictions
- Jacob DeGrom (+295 with Bovada)
- Max Scherzer (+500)
- Walker Buehler (+500)
- Jack Flaherty (+600)
- Yu Darvish (+750)
Imagine being a hitter in the National League East, where you have to face DeGrom and Scherzer on the regular. Add to that Stephen Strasburg (+1400) and Aaron Nola (+2500), and you have got four of the best pitchers in the NL in that one division. Two of them are on the same team. Good luck NL hitters.
The 31-year-old DeGrom has done things no MLB pitcher ever has, such as setting a record for most consecutive starts allowing three runs or fewer (30) and most consecutive strikeouts to start a game (8). MLB’s ERA leader in 2018, the NL’s strikeout leader in 2019, former Rookie of the Year and two-time defending Cy Young Award winner has rightly established his position as the best pitcher in baseball.
DeGrom boasts a 2.62 career ERA, but his past two seasons have seen him finish well below that number. A big leaguer since 2014, DeGrom found his groove in 2018 and now, there is no one better. He is a 250-strikeout guy and has never walked more than 60 batters in a season. If only he played for a team that won games for him, DeGrom would be golden.
In 2018, with an ERA of just 1.70, which is obscenely low, DeGrom’s Mets managed to get him just a 10-9 record, losing 10 of his starts in which he gave up one earned run or fewer. DeGrom was so dominant, he won the Cy Young anyway. The following year, DeGrom’s ERA was a pedestrian 2.43, having started the season horribly with a 6.30 ERA. He won just 11 games with the Mets losing 11 of his starts where he gave up just two earned runs or less. So here’s the thing: If DeGrom played for a better team he would run away with this award every year but because he has to deal with a less than ideal win-loss record, the Cy Young race is always moderately open.
That’s where guys like Scherzer and Flaherty come in. The 35-year-old Scherzer is closer to the end of his career than the beginning but he is still performing at an elite level. Scherzer had a 2.92 ERA last year with 243 strikeouts. He has got a career 3.20 ERA, has 3x led the NL in strikeouts and 4x in wins, is a 7x All-Star and has won the Cy Young 3x, most recently in 2017. In addition, Scherzer has pitched not one but two no hitters in his career, both of which came less than four months apart. Scherzer is the top pitcher on a Nationals roster that also includes Strasburg, giving Washington perhaps the top 1-2 in baseball.
Could Strasburg steal votes from Scherzer and vice versa? It’s quite possible. Traveling a little further down the odds, Flaherty is in a great position as he is one of few non-NL East pitchers on this list. At just 24, Flaherty had an average first half of the season in 2019 before posting unreal numbers after the All-Star break. Flaherty held hitters to an ERA of 0.91 from July onward, helping him to end the season with a 2.75 ERA, despite holding a mark of 4.64 as late as June. He finished fourth in the Cy Young voting.
- As for the Cy Young award predictions, win-loss records shouldn’t influence the voting in this unprecedented year so this preview would say stick with DeGrom (+295 with Bovada). If you are looking for a bit more of a value pick, Flaherty at +600 is a smart way to go.
AL Cy Young Award Predictions & Picks
- Gerrit Cole (+225 with Bovada)
- Justin Verlander (+600)
- Shane Bieber (+700)
- Lucas Giolito (+950)
- Tyler Glasnow (+950)
From the Astros to the Yankees, the expectation is that Gerrit Cole will continue to put up major numbers with his new team. One of the most interesting aspects of Cole’s transition is offensively, he is not changing all that much going from two top hitting teams. So, don’t expect his numbers to vastly differ when it comes to run support.
Last year’s strikeout and ERA leader in the AL, Cole won 20 games to finish 20-5, the second-best W-L mark in the league. Cole is every bit as good a pitcher as he was then so seeing him sitting at the top of the Cy Young odds isn’t all that surprising. Nor is it to see his former Astros teammate, Justin Verlander, right up there with him. Cole finished with the second-best W-L mark only because Verlander won 21 games to go 21-6 on the season. He struck out 300 batters for the first time in his career, helping lead him to the 2019 Cy Young, the second in his career.
Verlander is one of the best pitchers in MLB history. He has thrown three no hitters, is a member of the 3,000-strikeout club, is a former Rookie of the Year and AL MVP (an impressive feat for a pitcher). Not to mention, in 2011, he won the triple crown, leading the AL in wins, ERA and strikeouts. An 8x All-Star, Verlander at 36 last year, proved that his best wasn’t behind him. However it is not easy to win a Cy Young twice in a career let alone twice in a row.
Going a little bit further down the Cy Young odds we come to perhaps the best value pick of the bunch, Indians’ ace, Corey Kluber (+1600). Holding a career 3.16 ERA, Kluber, a 2x Cy Young winner, last won the award in 2017, the same year he led the AL in ERA. Kluber missed almost all of the 2019 season due to two separate injuries, but with the delay to the start of the season, he seems fully healed and ready to return to the success he found just a few years prior.
Kluber is a stud no doubt and if healthy, he is the ace Cleveland needs to aid their case to earn a playoff spot in 2020. In 2018, Kluber finished 11th in the AL in ERA with a mark of 2.89 while winning 20 games and losing just seven. This followed up his 2017 season where he had an MLB best 2.25 ERA and record of 18-4, also a league high. If you consider those two seasons as the norm and expect Kluber to return to that level, then a Cy Young is far from out of the possibility.
- When it comes to our betting pick and Cy Young predictions, we really like Kluber as a value wager at +1600 (16/1) with Bovada. He is a bit of a dark horse but one that could be worth the investment.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.