- Kenta Maeda has emerged as a top-five contender in the American League Cy Young odds
- The Twins ace is 4-1 in 2020 with a 2.53 ERA and 48 Ks over 42.2 IP
- Indians pitcher Shane Bieber is the heavy favorite to win the award
All Minnesota Twins ace Kenta Maeda has done this season is turn in a quality start in five of his seven outings. Those performances have finally earned up a spot on the American League Cy Young odds board. Maeda enters the fray at +1350, fifth-best in the league.
But Twins fans shouldn’t get their hopes too high. Indians pitcher Shane Bieber, the reigning All-Star Game MVP, improved from +150 to -138 over the past week. Gerrit Cole (+600), Lance Lynn (+750), and Lucas Giolito (+950) fill out the top five in the latest Cy Young odds.
The oddsmakers at BetMGM are the highest on Bieber’s chances, setting his line at -150, with Maeda way back at +2000.
2020 American League Cy Young Odds
|Player||Odds at BetMGM|
|Shane Bieber (Indians)||-150|
|Gerrit Cole (Yankees)||+600|
|Lucas Giolito (White Sox)||+600|
|Lance Lynn (Rangers)||+1000|
|Liam Hendricks (Athletics)||+1200|
|Tyler Glasnow (Rays)||+1400|
|Blake Snell (Rays)||+1600|
|Zack Greinke (Astros)||+2000|
|Frankie Montas (Athletics)||+2000|
|Kenta Maeda (Twins)||+2000|
Odds as of Sept. 2.
Bieber has been nothing short of stellar through his first eight starts this season. He’s reached the sixth inning in all eight, allowed a total of only seven earned runs, and compiled double-digit strikeout totals in five. In short, he’s performed at another level than the competition this season. His 6-0 record, along with 1.20 ERA and 84 strikeouts over 52.2 innings pitched, is proof of that.
Is Maeda — or anyone else — worth taking a flyer on from a betting standpoint?
A Tribe of One
When it comes to his American League counterparts — and every pitcher in big-league history, according to one statistic — Bieber has stood alone so far in 2020.
Shane Bieber struck out the first batter of the 4th inning tonight, giving him 82 strikeouts through his first 50 innings of the season. According to Elias, that is the most strikeouts by any starting pitcher through their first 50 innings in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/A9Jsyk0HEf
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 1, 2020
Now that coronavirus protocol-defying teammate Mike Clevinger has been traded to the Padres, the responsibility to keep Cleveland in the playoff hunt falls even more squarely on the 25-year-old right-hander’s uber-talented arm. The Indians currently lead the AL Central and are the No. 3 seed in the Junior Circuit playoff picture, with the White Sox and Twins both very close behind. If Cleveland continues to be part of the postseason mix and Bieber continues to compete for the pitching Triple Crown (he currently leads or co-leads the AL in wins, strikeouts and ERA), he will be a slam dunk choice.
While Cole and Lynn certainly deserve consideration, both of their cases have major flaws. Cole is in the middle of a mini-slump, suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in 16 months. He’s also allowed a league-leading 12 home runs. It’s hard to win the Cy Young Award in a 60-game season while suffering mini-slumps and giving up gopher balls at his current clip.
Meanwhile, Lynn has been fantastic. He’s 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 51.1 innings pitched. Problem is, he pitches for a Rangers team going nowhere. Lynn surprisingly was not dealt at the deadline, leaving him to flounder in the Metroplex for the remainder of the year.
That leaves two possible sleepers to unseat Bieber — and they both reside in the same division.
Of qualified pitchers, 2 players are top 5 in BOTH O-Swing% and SwStr%:
Maeda’s changeup has been great. Of any pitch thrown at least 100 times, the changeup has the:
– 8th best in O-Swing%: 48.3%
– 7th best in SwStr%: 24.6% pic.twitter.com/Fh6HvlV2v2
— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) August 31, 2020
Minnesota is currently the No. 7 seed in the AL playoff race that will include eight teams this year. If the team stays in contention and the 32-year-old Maeda stays consistently good (his WAR of 1.2 places him fourth-best in the AL behind Bieber, Lynn, and Greinke, according to ESPN) he might be worth a long-shot wager.
Lucas With the Lid Off
The only pitcher worth consideration here is Giolito. His record is a pedestrian 3-2. But he’s struck out 66 in 48.2 innings, owns a 3.14 ERA, and he did a little something last week.
LUCAS GIOLITO HAS THROWN A NO-HITTER pic.twitter.com/bcPPVC3wgT
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) August 26, 2020
The first and only no-no of the 2020 season certainly elevates the 26-year-old’s status. If the Pale Hose remain in the hunt for the team’s first playoff appearance since 2008 (they’re currently the No. 4 seed), Giolito’s candidacy is legit.
At the end of the day, though, the 2020 American League Cy Young Award is Bieber’s to lose. He’s a potential pitching Triple Crown-winner on a playoff team. Barring injury or a complete breakdown over multiple outings, the award is his.