This year’s American League Cy Young Award race should be an exciting one, starting with the top two preseason candidates — 2020 winner Shane Bieber and 2019 runner-up Gerrit Cole. There is a slight drop-off in the MLB odds after those two studs of the pitching mound. Both have dominated baseball for a few years now.
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1. Gerrit Cole (+350), New York Yankees: Doesn’t it seem like it’s Cole’s time? His turn? The odds certainly agree as the AL’s 2019 leader in earned run average (ERA) at 2.50 is expected to be dominant in his second year after signing a massive contract with the Yankees.
Last year’s abbreviated schedule wasn’t a good indicator of how dominant Cole can be, as he only pitched in 12 games. But give him a full year like in 2019 (20-5 record, AL-leading 326 strikeouts), and he may prove the odds correct. Cole was the AL Cy Young runner-up in 2019 and has finished fourth twice (2015 in NL, 2020 in AL) and fifth once (2018 in AL).
2. Shane Bieber (+375), Cleveland Indians: Bieber is back after he captured the AL Cy Young in an abbreviated, 60-game 2020 season (thank you COVID-19). He may have received only 12 starts, but he made the best of it with his 1.53 ERA, 122 strikeouts of 297 batters faced, and only 46 hits surrendered. Imagine what could have happened if he’d had the chance to get the typical 30-plus starts and maintained his 2020 pace.
3. Lucas Giolito (+500), Chicago White Sox: Giolito is hitting his prime, and the MLB betting lines seem to sense that. The 26-year old was a tad bit off last year (4-3 in 12 starts, 3.48 ERA), but he isn’t the only one who would love to forget 2020.
The 2019 AL All-Star Team participant began to ascend two years ago when he went 14-9 with 228 strikeouts in 176.2 innings. That breakthrough season was more in line with the expectations placed on Giolito when he was a 2012 first-round MLB Draft pick coming out of high school.
4. Tyler Glasnow (+800), Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays’ opening-day pitcher has “breakout season” written all over him. This spring, the 6-foot-8 right-hander consistently hit 99 miles per hour with his fastball, and the 27-year old seems ready to have a breakthrough season. Injuries hampered him in 2019, but in only 12 starts, he finished with a 6-1 record and 1.78 ERA. Could this be the big year for Glasnow and the Rays?
5. Hyun-Jin Ryu (+1000), Toronto Blue Jays: The 34-year old may not have as many opportunities left as the candidates above him in the Major League odds above, but he has shown the past three seasons that he’s better in his 30s than his 20s.
Pitching for Toronto last year and the Los Angeles Dodgers the two years before that, Ryu was 26-10 and never posted an ERA higher than 2.70. He’s been a top-three candidate for a Cy Young the past two seasons. Look for Ryu to be a factor again this year.
The Next Tier
Jose Berrios (+2000), Minnesota Twins: He’s been to the MLB All-Star game two of the past three seasons.
Corey Kluber (+2000), New York Yankees: The soon-to-be 35-year old has won two AL Cy Youngs already (at Cleveland in 2014 and 2017). Could he do it again for Texas?
Lance Lynn (+2000), Chicago White Sox: He’s had two top-six finishes in AL Cy Young Award voting the past two seasons.
Kenta Maeda (+2000), Minnesota Twins: Maeda was the AL Cy Young Award second-place finisher last year (6-1 record, 2.70 ERA, 80 Ks in 66.2 innings — only 10 walks).
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