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deGrom, Scherzer Drop in 2020 NL Cy Young Odds; Darvish Leaps Into Top-10 Favorites

NL Cy Young odds
Is Jacob deGrom now a value to win his third straight NL Cy Young award? Photo by slgckgc (Flickr).
  • The top four contenders in the NL Cy Young race have seen their odds lengthened, while contenders five through seven have seen their odds shortened
  • Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer both saw their odds drop, despite combining to win the award in each of the last four years
  • Are the favorites now undervalued or is a second-tier option worthy of a bet?

There’s been some surprising movement in the NL Cy Young odds this week. The top four contenders, which includes two-time reigning champion Jacob deGrom, all saw their odds lengthened, while the next three names on the odds board saw their price shortened.

2020 NL Cy Young Odds

Pitcher Avg. Odds Movement Odds
Jacob deGrom (Mets) +275 to +294 +300
Max Scherzer (Nationals) +400 to +419 +450
Walker Buehler (Dodgers) +600 to +638 +700
Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) +575 to +675 +700
Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) +1500 to +1201 +1400
Yu Darvish (Cubs) +3150 to +1826 +1600
Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) +1900 to +1623 +1800

Odds taken on Feb. 27th.

Max Scherzer, who won the award in 2016 and 2017, also saw his NL Cy Young odds drop, and while it may be a trendy move at the moment to fade Scherzer and deGrom, it’s impossible to ignore their pedigrees.

Tried, Tested and True

deGrom was sensational in 2018 and was just as good, if not better last season. He led the NL in WAR and WHIP for the second consecutive year, and recorded a league-best 255 strikeouts. He finished second in ERA and allowed a hard hit percentage below 30% for the third straight season. Once again he was almost un-hittable.

Scherzer, meanwhile, managed to finish third in Cy Young voting in 2019, despite only pitching 172 innings. That’s because when he was on the mound, he was his usual dominant self. The Nationals righty led the NL with a ridiculous 12.69 K/9 rate, and finished top-five in WAR, ERA and WHIP. Scherzer has now finished fifth or better in voting in each of the past seven seasons, a stretch that includes three Cy Young awards.

Neither one of these aces have shown even the slightest bit of regression, which makes betting on anyone else seem crazy. But it is happening, and the name that has been seeing the most action is the Cubs Yu Darvish.

Yu-ge Second Half Surge

The Cubs righty got off to a slow start in 2019, but rebounded in the second half of the season allowing two or fewer runs in eight of his last 13 starts. He posted a second half ERA of 2.95, and struck out 39 hitters in his final three outings. The second half surge must have stuck in bettors minds, because his average Cy Young odds have been slashed from +3150 to +1826.

Pat yourself on the back if you managed to grab Darvish at 30-1 or better, but betting him now at half the price feels like chasing. He still records strikeouts at an elite level, but his walk and home run rates are astronomical compared to deGrom and Scherzer.

Take Advantage of the Savings

Everyone of the pitchers who saw their Cy Young odds shortened has serious question marks, while the two favorites seem poised to continue their dominance. With Darvish, it’s his control and tendency to give up the long ball, while with Stephen Strasburg it’s always a question of health. He’s thrown more than 183 innings just twice in his career, and only once since 2014.

As for Clayton Kershaw, a staple in the NL Cy Young conversation for the past decade, it’s his performance. The three-time winner has seen a decline in his production in two straight seasons, and hasn’t exceeded 178 innings since 2015.

If you’re betting on the NL Cy Young winner this year, stick with deGrom or Scherzer. You’re getting a better price on Mad Max and only two pitchers in MLB history have ever won the award in three straight seasons.

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