This year’s National League Cy Young Award race should be an exciting one, starting with the top three preseason candidates who have captured the past five NL awards. Trevor Bauer, Jacob deGrom, and Max Scherzer have hogged the elite baseball honor. Could somebody break up the three-pitcher party at the top of the MLB odds?
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1. Jacob deGrom (+400), New York Mets: Since capturing NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2014, deGrom has proven himself as one of the strikeout kings of the game. His strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) rate is 10.5 during his career, and in last year’s abbreviated season it was 13.8 in 12 starts.
He was third in the Cy Young Award voting last year after winning it the previous two seasons. Will he bounce back to capture the third one of his career? The MLB betting odds sure seem to think so — and it’s not even close.
2. Trevor Bauer (+700), Los Angeles Dodgers: Bauer was last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner, posting a 1.73 earned run average (ERA) in 11 starts on the mound. He had two shutouts and 100 strikeouts in 73 innings pitched. That’s not too shabby for a guy who had been in Major League Baseball since 2012 and whose career ERA is just a shade below 4.00.
He just turned 30 years old two months ago and seems to be hitting his prime now as opposed to his mid-20s. We’ll see if he can continue what he did in last year’s abbreviated COVID-19 season.
3. Max Scherzer (+800), Washington Nationals: Scherzer will turn 37 years old in July and has had quite the career, winning 175 ball games and posting 2784 strikeouts in 2,357.1 career innings. He’s won three Cy Young Awards — one in the AL with Detroit and two in the NL with Washington. Aside from last year’s shortened season, he’s finished in the top five for the award every year since 2013.
Scherzer wasn’t as dominant, statistically, in 2021. He posted a 5-4 record with a 3.74 ERA. Was the dip in effectiveness indicative of a decline due to age, or was it just a one-season hiccup? We shall see, but he’s currently a solid No. 3 in the MLB Awards Odds.
4t. Walker Buehler (+1000), Los Angeles Dodgers: Buehler is the intriguing candidate who joins Yu Darvish (below) as the two NL pitchers who have the best odds to be first-time Cy Young Award winners. That respect stems from his 2019 season performance when he was an NL All-Star and went 14-4.
Also, unlike some of the candidates above, Buehler is still pretty young. He won’t turn 27 until July and made it to the Major Leagues in two years after being drafted in the first round out of Missouri.
4t. Yu Darvish (+1000), San Diego Padres: Darvish, at 34, has traveled a unique, winding path during his career. After pitching professionally in Japan for seven seasons, he began his MLB career with the Texas Rangers and made the AL All-Star Team the first three seasons. But he has battled injuries on and off between his hot start from 2012-14 and a solid, short season in 2020. Along the way, he’s had two Cy Young Award runner-up finishes (2013 in the AL with Texas and last year in the NL with the Chicago Cubs). He’s another intriguing contender for the award.
The Next Tier
Aaron Nola (+1200), Philadelphia Phillies: Nola took third in the NL Cy Young voting in 2018, going 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA.
Luis Castillo (+1200), Cincinnati Reds: Castillo posted a 1.93 ERA in three spring training appearances, and he went 15-8 on the mound in 2019.
Jack Flaherty (+1500), St. Louis Cardinals: Took fourth in the NL Cy Young vote in 2019, and he is still in his mid-20s.
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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has covered the national recruiting scene in football and basketball for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All-America selections, handled FCS college football for HERO Sports, and covered Jacob deGrom for his local newspaper when he played for a tiny Class 1A high school in Daytona Beach, Fla. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.