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AL Cy Young Odds Show Hyper-Close Race Between Verlander and Cole, with Morton Close Behind

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in MLB Baseball

Aug 2, 2019 · 2:57 PM PDT

Justin Verlander pitching motion.
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander is the favorite to win the 2019 American League Cy Young Award but the gap is closing. Photo by Keith Allison (Wikimedia Commons) [CC License].
  • Houston pitcher Justin Verlander remains the AL Cy Young favorite at +150
  • But his edge over teammate Gerrit Cole (+175) has shortened
  • Verlander was the prohibitive -250 chalk just a month ago

Sportsbooks still lists Justin Verlander as the favorite in the 2019 American League Cy Young Award odds. But suddenly, Verlander has some company at the top of the AL pitching mountain, and it’s someone from the same clubhouse.

Astros’ #2 starter Gerrit Cole has closed in on Verlander significantly. Verlander is currently the chalk at +150, while Cole is hot on his heels at +175. After Houston’s two aces, there’s a sizable drop to Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton at +400.

2019 AL Cy Young Award Odds

Player (Team) *AL Cy Young Odds
Justin Verlander (Astros) +150
Gerrit Cole (Astros) +175
Charlie Morton (Rays) +400
Lance Lynn (Rangers) +650
Jose Berrios (Twins) +1800
Mike Minor (Rangers) +2000
Lucas Giolito (White Sox) +2500
Shane Bieber (Indians) +2500
Jake Odorizzi (Twins) +3300

*Odds taken on 08/02/19.

A month ago, Verlander was the -250 betting choice to win the AL Cy Young. Cole was a distant sixth in the odds at +900.

Verlander vs Cole

It’s not as though Verlander’s numbers have taken a dip. He’s won his last four starts. He’s 14-4 with an AL-leading 2.73 ERA. That’s a league-leading wins tally, as well.

Verlander has allowed the fewest earned runs on the junior circuit (164). He also leads the league in WHIP (.881), hits-per-nine innings (5.5), strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.32) and opponent batting average (.169).

Justin Verlander-Gerrit Cole By The Numbers

Pitcher Starts W-L ERA WHIP OPP AVG SO/W
Justin Verlander 23 14-4 2.73 .811 .169 6.32
Gerrit Cole 24 13-5 2.87 .996 .202 5.54

The gap has narrowed because Cole has caught fire. He’s won his last eight decisions and hasn’t tasted defeat since May 22.

Cole only claims the AL lead in one meaningful category, strikeouts (216). But his performance on that front has been magnificent; only one pitcher — Randy Johnson — ever reached 200 strikeouts faster in a season.

Cole is also second in WHIP (.996) and hits-per-nine innings (6.631) but remember that Cole is second to Verlander in  both categories.

The biggest knock on Verlander this season is that he’s also first in one of the most undesirable categories: home runs allowed. He’s somehow managed to surrender a league-high 28 dingers.

Could Morton Make An Assault?

Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton is second to Verlander in both opponent batting average (.206) and ERA (2.78). He’s also the opposite to Verlander in that he’s allowed an AL-low .662 home runs-per-nine innings.

He’s 12-3 but one-third of those wins have come against the woeful Baltimore Orioles (two), Detroit Tigers (one) and Miami Marlins (one). He’s just 3-3 in his last six decisions.

He simply hasn’t been as dominant as Verlander, nor his teammate Blake Snell last year, when Snell won his first Cy Young Award.

It’s A Two-Horse Race

Forget about all the other pitchers. This is like the 1978 Triple Crown between Affirmed and Alydar. It’s a two-horse race between the Astros aces.

In this scenario, Verlander is Triple Crown champion Affirmed and Cole is Alydar – a great performer destined to finish second.

Two pitchers from the same starting rotation have never ended up 1-2 in AL Cy Young Award voting.

Assuming they finish 1-2, Verlander and Cole will make history. Two pitchers from the same starting rotation have never ended up 1-2 in AL Cy Young Award voting. The closest call came in 1990, when Oakland A’s starter Bob Welch won the award and teammate Dave Stewart was third in the final tally.

In 2011, Verlander won both the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards while hurling for the Detroit Tigers. He won’t turn that double play this year, but Kate Upton’s hubby is the best bet to add another Cy Young Award to his trophy case.

Pick: Verlander (+150)

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