- Two-time Cy Young-winner Jacob deGrom is off to the best start of his career
- Already the NL favorite in the preseason, he’s as short as even money to win his third Cy Young three weeks into 2021
- With so many games remaining, is it wise to bet on the Mets’ ace now?
About a week ago, I wrote about Milwaukee Brewers third-year phenom Corbin Burnes, who was pitching like a combination of Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux. I said there was little value betting on Burnes to win the Cy Young at +500 this early in the season because, as long as Jacob deGrom is alive and well, the Mets hurler will remain the favorite and keep everyone else’s odds at a distance.
In other words, bettors can take a wait-and-see approach with the relative youngster.
Not to toot my own horn, but just a week later, that advice looks prescient. DeGrom is now as short as +100 in the Cy Young odds and is putting in the best April of his storied career.
2021 NL Cy Young Odds
|Jacob deGrom (NYM)||+100|
|Corbin Burnes (MIL)||+500|
|Trevor Bauer (LAD)||+1300|
|Brandon Woodruff (MIL)||+1500|
|Walker Buehler (LAD)||+1700|
|Yu Darvish (SD)||+2200|
|Aaron Nola (PHI)||+2200|
|Clayton Kershaw (LAD)||+2400|
|Max Scherzer (WAS)||+2400|
|Joe Musgrove (SD)||+2500|
|Blake Snell (SD)||+2500|
|Trevor Rogers (MIA)||+2500|
|Jack Flaherty (STL)||+4000|
|Pablo Lopez (MIA)||+4000|
|Zack Wheeler (NYM)||+4000|
Odds as of April 28, 2021, at DraftKings.
DeGrom Leads the League in … Pretty Much Everything
Among qualified pitchers, deGrom is at the top of basically every meaningful pitching statistic. He is first (or tied for first) in the majors in ERA (0.31), WHIP (0.55), strikeouts-per-nine (15.5), and WAR (1.5 at ESPN).
He only has a 2-1 record after four starts, but wins don’t matter nearly as much as they used to when it comes to Cy Young voting. He had a 10-9 win-loss record in his first Cy Young season (2018) and an 11-8 mark in his second (2019).
Even if his teammates continue to put in anemic performances when he’s on the mound (the Mets have only averaged 3.25 runs per game in his four starts this season and 4.1 over the past four seasons) it isn’t likely to matter in the eyes of the voters. The lack of run support actually factored into his Cy Young narrative back in 2018.
Is Now a Good Time to Bet on deGrom?
Anytime a player, in any sport, is listed at even money to win a major award with almost 90% of the season remaining, bettors should take a long pause before making a wager. In order to be worth a bet at +100 odds, deGrom needs to have more than a 50% chance to win the NL Cy Young.
In most circumstances, that’s a preposterously high number. In deGrom’s, however, the price might be right.
Over in the American League, there are about seven pitchers with solid track records who are in the mix : Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, Lance Lynn, Tyler Glasnow, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Berrios, and Zack Greinke. Cole (1.71 ERA) has been the best of the bunch, but he isn’t exactly head-and-shoulders above his legitimate competition.
In the NL, deGrom has already put a lot of distance between himself and the other preseason favorites: Trevor Bauer (2.53 ERA), Max Scherzer (3.00 ERA), Aaron Nola (2.84 ERA), Clayton Kershaw (2.56), and Luis Castillo (6.29 ERA). It’s not that they’re pitching terribly – other than Castillo – but their numbers aren’t in the same ballpark as deGrom.
The starters who are directly behind deGrom on the leaderboards are unproven. As I said last week, Burnes has never pitched more than 59.2 innings in a season, and cracks already started to show in his most-recent start (eight hits, four earned runs in 5.0 innings against the lowly Marlins).
Miami’s Trevor Rogers (1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12.2 K/9) is in the same boat as Burnes; he had pitched a grand total of 28.0 innings in the majors before this year. His stuff is Cy Young calibre, but this is a 162-game grind.
If there was some type of insurance you could buy in the case of injuries, I wouldn’t hesitate to bet on deGrom at +100. Based on his early lead and his lengthy track record, there’s a 50% chance he is the best pitcher in the National League this season, as long as he’s pitching. The fact that he plays in a massive market compared to, say, Burnes in Milwaukee also weighs in deGrom’s favor.
But the potential for injury, or even COVID disruptions, is always lingering. DeGrom isn’t immune from getting hurt. He spent time on the IL in 2019 and missed starts in 2020, as well. Yet, those concerns are much less for deGrom than for the Stephen Strasburgs of the league. All in all, +100 is a fair price for the best pitcher in the game.