MLB Cy Young Odds
The Cy Young race is annually the best award race to follow. Pitchers only get so many starts, making every outing for the top candidates appointment viewing late in the season, and it seems like each year produces a winner few would’ve expected.
Justin Verlander and Sandy Alcantara both had a great track record entering 2022, but both would’ve given you great value. Verlander was coming off two lost seasons due to injury, while Alcantara hadn’t established himself enough to be a favorite. Someone, somewhere is going to rise to the top this season and win a Cy Young. Let’s take a look at the favorites entering 2023 and examine some value picks.
Cy Young Odds 2023
The Favorites for AL Cy Young
Gerrit Cole (+600)
Cole enters as the favorite for the third consecutive year, but he hasn’t exactly done much to prove he’s worthy of this spot. Yes, Cole is capable of a 7-inning, 13-strikeout performance any time he’s on the hill, but he blows up too often when one or two things go wrong.
Cole’s strikeout rate dipped only slightly last season while his WHIP improved despite a 3.50 ERA and 3.47 FIP. There’s no indication his swing-and-miss stuff is disappearing just yet. Maybe he feels less pressure in a rotation that stacks up against the best in baseball. I just don’t feel that +600 is enough value for a pitcher who hasn’t been at a Cy Young level since 2019.
Jacob deGrom (+600)
This one, as you would expect, is all about health. deGrom proved down the stretch last season that he’s still as nasty as ever. Can he stay on the mound long enough to make 28+ starts in 2023? If so, the lack of truly dominant starters with a track record easily makes deGrom a Cy Young favorite.
+600 might not be the greatest value for a pitcher with such an injury history, so it may be worth seeing him get some starts under his belt and reevaluating before making that leap.
Alek Manoah (+900)
Manoah is everything a team could want in a young starter. He’s a workhorse, and he’s among the most consistent pitchers in baseball. He may not go out and throw seven hitless innings like it’s nothing, but the chances of him going out and giving up more than two or three runs are very slim. That makes him a lower-risk Cy Young pick, especially as he gains more experience and pitches in a league with what could be a wide open race. I like Manoah here even at +900.
The Favorites for NL Cy Young
Corbin Burnes +500
Burnes hit more bumps than usual last season, but what could be considered just an okay season for him would be a dream for most other starters. He still allowed very few hits, and the most encouraging part of his 2022 was his ability to turn into a workhorse with 202 innings. A lack of innings nearly cost him the Cy Young in 2021, so that concern is alleviated as long as he stays healthy.
If Burnes can limit the home runs and walks (easier said than done, sure, but he did it in 2021), there’s no reason he can’t be at the forefront of this race. At +500, though, is he the best value? Probably not.
Justin Verlander (+500)
+500 feels like it doesn’t give us enough value here. Verlander is going to be 40 years old when the season begins. An IL stint nearly derailed his Cy Young campaign late last season, and there’s no doubt the Mets are going to try to take it easy on him with October in mind. Verlander should continue to be among the NL’s top starters, but there are too many risks on the path to a Cy Young for +500 to be worth considering.
Sandy Alcantara (+600)
The Sandy Alcantara train is moving forward at full speed. His ability to give his team more innings than any pitcher in the NL gives him a natural advantage, and nobody quietly takes care of business like Alcantara.
Will the workload end up hurting him? He definitely wasn’t as sharp down the stretch as he was in the first half of the season. New manager Skip Schumaker may keep that in mind as he replaces the more traditional Don Mattingly.
A 2.99 FIP in 2022 also indicates his ERA was a bit lower than it might’ve deserved to be. As much as I look forward to Alcantara’s starts every fifth day, there could be some better values.
Top Value Picks
Framber Valdez (+2000)
Valdez’s odds really surprised me. +2000 for the most dominant pitcher in the postseason? He nearly stuck into the top-three in AL Cy Young voting with a strong finish last season and is among the most reliable pitchers in baseball.
Valdez is the best ground ball pitcher in the league. There isn’t reason to worry he’ll give up too many home runs, and the Astros’ strong defense behind him should continue to help his numbers look as strong as possible.
Valdez is also proving to be a legitimate workhorse. He threw 201.1 innings last season and somehow still managed to only surrender 11 home runs. Now with the spotlight on him as the Astros’ ace, +2000 seems like a terrific value for Valdez.
Zac Gallen (+1400)
Gallen was dominant late last season, putting together one of the longest scoreless streaks in modern history and posting the best hits/nine rate of any qualified pitcher in baseball at 5.9. He also cut down on walks and threw a career-high 184 innings despite opening the season with a minor injury.
An injury history is a mild concern. Gallen does have some shoulder issues in his past, but the second half last season showed what he’s capable of when’s feeling healthy and confident. He posted a 1.49 ERA over his last 14 starts, with hitters batting .156 against him. I’m loving Gallen’s value at +1400.