Cy Young odds in both AL and NL predictable, but could there be value on longshots?

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Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Baseball fans seem to love to place a few bucks down before the season for their favorite team to win the World Series. Quite often, however, there isn’t a ton of value in doing that; rather, it’s more a bet of “just in case.”

There are better values elsewhere in betting MLB futures, and one of our favorites is the Cy Young Award. While favorites – or at least those in the top five – win about half the time, finding those on the cusp of breaking out also can prove to be a bonanza for those looking in the right spot.

Last season, both winners would have produced bettors with a nice reward had they peered through the vines and made the right choice.

Having missed almost two full seasons, it was tough to predict Houston’s Justin Verlander would have come back at age 39 and been lights out, and most people likely stayed away from what seemed to be steep odds at +2000 in the preseason. Conversely, if one was looking ahead in the NL last season, the sharp eye could have seen value in Miami’s Sandy Alcantara at +1600.

This year, it’s probably a great idea to stay away from Verlander, who is one of the favorites in the NL with his new team – the New York Mets – at age 40. While Verlander is +700 to win it in the NL, the reigning champ is the favorite at +500. In the AL with Verlander gone, Jacob deGrom, who also switched leagues from the Mets to the Texas Rangers, is +550.

Let’s take a deeper look and see if we can find the best values.

NOTE: All odds are courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

National League Cy Young odds

Pitcher  Team  Odds 
Sandy Alcantara Marlins +500
Corbin Burnes Brewers +600
Justin Verlander Mets +700
Max Scherzer Mets +800
Spencer Strider Braves +1000
Zac Gallen Diamondbacks +1100
Max Fried Braves +1200
Aaron Nola Phillies +1300
Zack Wheeler Phillies +1800
Brandon Woodruff Brewers +2000
Julio Urias Dodgers +2000
Logan Webb Giants +3000
Yu Darvish Padres +3200
Nick Lodolo Reds +4000
Joe Musgrove Padres +5000
Blake Snell Braves +5000
Hunter Greene Reds +5000
Dustin May Dodgers +6000
Kyle Wright Braves +7500

 

Analysis: Voters proved last season a pitcher doesn’t have to be on the best team, and no longer must they win 20 games (which is so much harder to do today than even 10 years ago). Alcantara last season went just 14-9, but he pitched a whopping (for today) 228.2 innings, striking out more than 200 more for the second consecutive season.

If you’re looking at one of the favorites, he should be the top choice, as the Marlins could be better this season, and if he goes something like 17-5 with similar numbers, Alcantara will be tough to beat.

As for value plays, the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has to be considered a sleeper at +2000. Eight seasons after entering the league as a 19-year-old, he’s a wily veteran now (said tongue in cheek), and he will go into 2023 with his third full season as a starter. He has won 37 games the past two seasons and finished third in Cy Young voting last season with a 2.19 ERA and a 0.960 WHIP.

If he can lower the number of home runs he allows (23 last season) and up the innings pitched just a bit (175 last year), he certainly will be in the conversation.

Other potential “longshots” of 10-1 or greater we like are Atlanta’s Max Fried, San Diego’s Yu Darvish and keep an eye on “old-man” Clayton Kershaw at +8000 (who is 5 years younger than favorite Verlander).

American League Cy Young odds

Pitcher  Team  Odds 
Jacob deGrom Rangers +550
Gerrit Cole Yankees +700
Dylan Cease White Sox +900
Shohei Ohtani Angels +1100
Carlos Rodon Yankees +1400
Shane McClanahan Rays +1400
Alek Manoah Blue Jays +1500
Kevin Gausman Blue Jays +1500
Shane Bieber Guardians +1600
Luis Castillo Mariners +1600
Cristian Javier Astros +2000
Framber Valdez Astros +2000
Robbie Ray Mariners +4000
Triston McKenzie Guardians +4000
Tyler Glasnow Rays +4500
George Kirby Mariners +4500
Lucas Giolito White Sox +5000
Logan Gilbert Mariners +5000
Nestor Cortes Yankees +5500

 

Analysis: Despite being the best pitcher on planet Earth when he is healthy, there is simply no way anyone should be betting deGrom at +550, when he’s now pitching in a place that heats up like the bright side of Mercury in the summer and the fact he hasn’t remained healthy for a full season in 4 years.

That leaves us turning to the likes of Dylan Cease of the White Sox at +900 or the Yankees’ big pitching acquisition Carlos Rodon at +1400.

Those who were wondering heading into last season if 2021 was a fluke for Rodon, who went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 24 starts in his last season with the White Sox, were shown very early it was not. In one campaign in the National League with the San Francisco Giants, he went 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 237 strikeouts in 178 innings.

Meanwhile, Cease is similar to Alcantara, in which he could be entering his breakout season. He has made 32 starts in back-to-back seasons and has dropped his ERA from 4.01 in 2020 to 3.91 in 2021 and 2.20 last season, where he was second in Cy Young voting to Verlander.

Those we like with double-digit odds in the AL include Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani (although is a bit overpriced due to his superstardom) and Seattle’s Luis Castillo.

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