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MLB Cy Young Odds: Verlander and Scherzer are Separating from the Pack

Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer is closing in on his fourth Cy Young award. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]
  • Max Scherzer is off to the best start of his 11-year career. Can he keep up his torrid pace?
  • Can Gerrit Cole steal the Cy Young award away from fellow Astro Justin Verlander?
  • Can Clayton Kershaw shake off his injury woes and regain his All-Star form?

Justin Verlander might want to consider clearing some room on his mantle for a second Cy Young award.

The Astros ace has been the best pitcher in the AL during the first third of the season and is leading the league in ERA, hits per nine-innings, and WHIP. His four-seam fastball is just as filthy as ever and he’s using it to ring up opponents at a nearly unprecedented rate.

Vegas has taken note of his red hot start and, unlike American League batters, has made the necessary adjustments. Verlander’s average odds to win the 2018 AL Cy Young award have improved from +800 on March 16th to +200 on May 31st across a number of top online betting sites.

Bookmakers knew that Verlander would flourish during his first full season with the Astros, but few anticipated just how dominant he would be.  Much of the credit goes to the Astros, who have overhauled Verlander’s mechanics since acquiring him from Detroit late last season. They’ve helped the six-time All-Star get the drop on hitters by adding more tilt to his already devastating slider. The result is more strikeouts, more wins, and more baffled batters.

Top 5 AL Cy Young Contenders

Player Avg. Odds at BetOnline Record ERA SO
Justin Verlander +200 7-2 1.11 98
Corey Kluber +500 8-2 2.02 88
Chris Sale +500 5-2 2.76 104
Gerrit Cole +600 5-1 2.05 109
Luis Severino +1000 8-1 2.31 92

Verlander has built up a bit of a cushion thanks to his fast start in 2018, but he can’t afford to get comfortable. Indians ace Corey Kluber and Red Sox fireballer Chris Sale are both close behind him with average odds of +500. Kluber leads the league in wins and innings pitched, while Sale is ensconced in the top five in strikeouts and BAA.

Verlander also has some stiff competition on his own staff from fellow Astro Gerrit Cole. The former number one pick is 5-1 with a 2.05 ERA during his first season in Houston. He leads all pitchers in strikeouts and is a big reason why the Astros are tops in the Majors in that category.

The Cy Young race is considerably less close in the National League, where Max Scherzer has successfully separated himself from the pack. Ol’ Blue Eye leads the league in wins, strikeouts, WHIP, and innings pitched, and has seen his average 2018 Cy Young award odds jump from +230 on March 16th to +150 on May 31st across numerous betting sites.

Ol’ Blue Eye leads the National League in wins, strikeouts, WHIP, and innings pitched.

Scherzer looked especially sharp on Wednesday against the Orioles, as he scattered two hits and struck out 12 over eight innings. A performance like that generally requires a pitcher’s complete concentration, but the Washington ace later admitted he spent half the time in the clubhouse watching the Stanley Cup Finals.

Scherzer has had ten or more strikeouts in eight games this season, and recently became the seventh active pitcher with 150 career wins. At this point it’s less a matter of whether he’ll win his fourth Cy Young award and more a matter of how many votes he’ll get when he’s eligible for enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Scherzer has had ten or more strikeouts in eight games this season, and recently became the seventh active pitcher with 150 career wins.

Scherzer’s biggest threat (aside from complacency or another hockey game) is Jacob deGrom. The 29-year-old right-hander is undefeated in 2018 and leads the NL with a dazzling 1.52 ERA.

Top 5 NL Cy Young Contenders

Player Avg. Odds at BetOnline Record ERA SO
Max Scherzer +150 9-1 1.92 120
Jacob deGrom +500 4-0 1.52 85
Aaron Nola +1000 6-2 2.27 67
Clayton Kershaw +1200 1-4 2.86 48
Stephen Strasburg +1400 6-4 3.13 83

deGrom’s record would be even better were it not for the complete ineptitude of New York’s bullpen. The team’s hapless relievers have already blown three of his games this season and have turned some of his finest outings into no decisions. He’ll need all the luck he can get if he hopes to catch up to Scherzer in the months ahead.

Check out our 2018 Cy Young Odds Tracker to see how the odds of baseball’s best pitchers fluctuate as the season unfolds.

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Ryan currently serves as an Editor and resident Lead NBA and MLB Writer for SBD. He has authored his own column for both Fox Sports and AskMen, and has created campaigns for the WWE, the NHL, and the NFL. Ryan's critically acclaimed stories have been published in 20 books.