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NL Cy Young Favorites Thrown Into Chaos After deGrom Injury; Buehler Now Favored Over Wheeler

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in MLB Baseball

Aug 2, 2021 · 10:00 PM PDT

Jacob deGrom throwing pitch
New York Mets' Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
  • A prohibitively short Cy Young favorite a week ago, Jacob deGrom is on the shelf until September
  • His odds faded badly, opening the door for the field
  • See the updated NL Cy Young odds at the start of August

It’s not often you see a player at -1200 to win a major award with nearly half a season to play. But that’s exactly where New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom found himself less than a week ago.

However, news that he will be out until September due to an arm injury has completely shifted the leaderboard. There are now five players within a stone’s throw of each other at the top of the odds.

2021 NL Cy Young Odds

Player Odds at DraftKings
Walker Buehler (LAD) +350
Zack Wheeler (PHI) +380
Corbin Burnes (MIL) +400
Brandon Woodruff (MIL) +425
Kevin Gausman (SF) +450
Max Scherzer (LAD) +800
 Jacob deGrom (NYM) +1000
Freddy Peralta (MIL) +2500
Julio Urias (LAD) +6000
Yu Darvish (SD) +6000
Trevor Rogers (MIA) +7000
Chris Paddack (SD) +10000
Joe Musgrove (SD) +10000
Marcus Stroman (NYM) +10000
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) +10000
Taijuan Walker (NYM) +10000
Luis Castillo (CIN) +10000
Jack Flaherty (STL) +10000
Charlie Morton (ATL) +10000
Zac Gallen (ARI) +15000
Patrick Corbin (WAS) +15000

Odds as of Aug. 2, 2021.

At +350, Walker Buehler of the Dodgers is slightly ahead of Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler (+380), Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes (+400) and Brandon Woodruff (+425), and San Francisco’s Kevin Gausman (+450).

Three-time winner Max Scherzer is lurking not too far behind at +800, while deGrom is now seventh at +1000.

Comparing the New Favorites

The table below compares the most-important pitching statistics for the top-seven favorites. They are listed from shortest to longest odds.

Player IP ERA WHIP K/9 xFIP WAR
Walker Buehler (LAD) 135.2 2.19 0.87 9.2 3.59 3.4
Zack Wheeler (PHI) 139.2 2.45 1.02 10.6 2.78 5.0
Corbin Burnes (MIL) 106.0 2.46 0.97 12.9 2.19 4.9
Brandon Woodruff (MIL) 131.1 2.26 0.88 10.4 2.99 3.9
Kevin Gausman (SF) 126.1 2.35 0.95 10.6 3.45 3.0
Max Scherzer (LAD) 111.0 2.76 0.89 11.9 3.46 2.5
Jacob deGrom (NYM) 92.0 1.08 0.55 14.3 1.62 4.9

It’s easy to see why deGrom was such a short favorite over this hyper-talented group. His ERA was twice as low as the NL’s second-best performer (which is actually Milwaukee’s Freddy Peralta at 2.17). He had a chance to better Bob Gibson’s live-ball era record of a 1.12  ERA, set in 1968.

Best Case for deGrom

The latest reports have deGrom missing at least the month of August. If his recovery and ramp-up process go well and he returns at the start of September, he will be in the Mets’ lineup for the final 30 games of the season. If he manages to make six starts in that time and averages seven innings per start, he will finish the season with 134 innings pitched.

Is that enough to put him in the conversation?

Maybe.

Blake Snell won the 2018 Cy Young while pitching 180.2 innings. There were detractors who said he didn’t pitch enough to deserve the award, but he ultimately won it, so the detractors were clearly outnumbered.

In all likelihood, deGrom doesn’t control his own destiny anymore. If the likes of Buehler, Wheeler, and Woodruff eclipse 200 innings – which they all have an excellent chance to do – they will have an excellent counterargument to deGrom’s eye-popping statistics. Wheeler and Burnes will also have WARs that far exceed deGrom’s, unless they tank down the stretch.

However, if the new favorites have their innings tapered a little toward the end of the season and don’t reach that important 200-inning plateau, deGrom’s resume starts to look shinier (assuming he actually does return on schedule and pitch effectively).

In an era when LaMelo Ball can win NBA Rookie of the Year while playing 55 games, deGrom has a legitimate chance to still win the NL Cy Young award with fewer than 150 innings pitched. He was pitching on another level before his injury and, if he does the same in September, that’s what voters are going to remember best when it comes time to cast ballots.

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