- Triston McKenzie and Brady Singer are long shots for the AL Cy Young award.
- Dustin May, Joe Musgrove, and Zack Wheeler are long shots in the NL.
With Opening Day less than a week away, the usual suspects are dominating the Cy Young award odds. Jacob deGrom is leading the AL at +600, and Sandy Alcantara and Corbin Burnes are tied at +500 in the NL.
But a new season brings new potential award-contenders.
So, which pitchers are the best long shot options for 2023?
Triston McKenzie — Cleveland Guardians
Going into his fourth season in the majors, McKenzie has established himself as a player to watch on the Guardians. He posted a 31:1 K:BB ratio over his final four starts last season, and the 25-year-old has only scratched the surface of his potential.
In 2022, McKenzie went 11-11 with an ERA of 2.96, 0.95 WHIP, and 190 strikeouts in 191.1 innings. In his two postseason starts, he went 0-0 with a 3.27 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 13 strikeouts in 11 innings.
As of March 24, McKenzie has AL Cy Young odds of +2500.
Triston McKenzie already has 7 Ks through 4! pic.twitter.com/qhm5Krkm5b
— MLB (@MLB) October 8, 2022
Dustin May — Los Angeles Dodgers
May’s last two seasons have been plagued with injuries, so much so that he’s only made 11 starts since 2020. Tommy John surgery ended his 2021 campaign after just five appearances, and when he finally returned to the mound in August 2022, he only managed six starts before lower back tightness put him back on the IL.
In 2022, May went 2-3 with an ERA of 4.50, 1.17 WHIP, and 29 strikeouts in 30 innings, and didn’t appear in any Dodgers playoff games. The season prior, he went 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and struck out 35 batters in 23 innings.
The 25-year-old struggled with command during his short 2022 season, as most pitchers do when recovering from Tommy John surgery. Still, he’s proven he can be fierce when he’s healthy. If May can keep himself off the IL, he has a lot of potential.
As of March 24, May has NL Cy Young odds of +6000.
Joe Musgrove — San Diego Padres
It’s more than a little difficult to consider Musgrove a long shot, but his recent toe injury pushed his odds a lot higher than they’d otherwise sit. Even now that they’ve dropped back to +2500, I still think the Padres star is being underestimated.
The 30-year-old right-hander dropped a kettlebell on his left foot and fractured his toe during spring training, but the latest update has his projected return date as April 6. Assuming there are no complications to Musgrove’s recovery, I don’t really see this injury as a cause for concern regarding his Cy Young chances.
In 2022, Musgrove went 10-7 with an ERA of 2.93, 1.08 WHIP, and 184 strikeouts in 181 innings. In his three postseason starts, he went 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 18 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.
As of March 24, Musgrove has NL Cy Young odds of +2500.
Start your day with all 27 outs of Joe Musgrove's no-hitter. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/iIUx4c5QOL
— MLB (@MLB) April 10, 2021
Brady Singer — Kansas City Royals
Singer had the best season of his three-year MLB career in 2022. A brief demotion to AAA at the start of the season gave him the wake-up call he needed, and he came back with a lot more control to make up for lost time.
In 2022, Singer went 10-5 with an ERA of 3.23, 1.14 WHIP, and 150 strikeouts in 153.1 innings. He was especially dominant during the second half of 2022, and with the recent confidence boost of playing for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Singer is a dark horse candidate for the Cy Young award this season.
As of March 24, Singer has AL Cy Young odds of +5000.
Zack Wheeler — Philadelphia Phillies
Like Musgrove, Wheeler is another player who isn’t as big an underdog as others on this list, but I still think his odds should be lower than they are since he’s coming off the two best seasons of his career.
In 2022 with the NL pennant-winning Phillies, Wheeler went 12-7 with an ERA of 2.82, 1.04 WHIP, and 163 strikeouts in 153 innings. In his six postseason starts, he went 1-3 with a 2.78 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and 33 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. The Phillies will be back with a vengeance in 2023, and I expect Wheeler to be a major part of that.
As of March 24, Wheeler has NL Cy Young odds of +1600.
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