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NL Cy Young Odds Heavily Favor Ryu as Scherzer Recovers from Back Injury

MLB Betting
Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award. Photo by David Fletcher (flickr).
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu is 11-2 on the year with a 0.94 WHIP and a 5.0 WAR
  • Max Scherzer still has the better WAR between the pitchers at 5.4
  • Scherzer is currently out with a mild back injury and is eligible to return on August 5th

The race for the Cy Young Award in the National League looks like it’s tilting in Hyun-Jin Ryu’s favor. That’s partially because Max Scherzer has been dealing with a back injury and has been forced out of a few starts. Is Ryu the best bet to seal the deal or is Scherzer – or anyone else – a good bet?

Odds to Win 2019 National League Cy Young Award

Team Odds
Hyun-Jin Ryu -150
Max Scherzer +160
Stephen Strasburg +600
Clayton Kershaw +1200
Mike Soroka +1200
Luis Castillo +2500

*Odds taken 8/2/19

Ryu Coming off Scintillating Month

Scherzer has been out just a week so far with his back injury and while it’s not serious, Ryu has continued to shine in his absence. Ryu is fresh off a quality start against the Colorado Rockies – a team that hammered him for a season-high seven earned runs on June 28th. This time, he blanked them through six innings while giving up just six hits.

Ryu has been phenomenal in July as the Dodgers won each of his five starters. He allowed just four earned runs in 32.2 innings of work (1.10 ERA) while posting a minuscule 1.09 WHIP.

Even though Scherzer is having a fantastic season, it’s felt like Ryu has been the frontrunner for this award. Now it feels like he’s pulled ahead further.

How Serious Is Scherzer’s Injury?

This race was (and still is) mostly neck-in-neck but if Scherzer is going to be out a while, or if he’s hampered by a bad back, there’s a good chance he’ll fade. He played catch on Friday, which was the first time he’s done any type of throwing since he hit the injured list. He’s eligible to come back on August 5th but he’s likely to need more time.

For what it’s worth, Scherzer himself feels like he could pitch through this issue (a mild rhomboid strain) but the Nationals are being cautious with him. They know they’ll need him for the stretch run, so they don’t want to take chances.

Ryu Looks Like the Better Bet

When you start to breakdown the numbers with a side-by-side comparison, Ryu looks like the better player to bet right now. He’s 11-2 on the year with a 1.66 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. Even when you look at the WAR, although Scherzer had a much bigger lead in this category earlier in the year, Ryu is at 5.0 while Scherzer is at 5.4.

Take a look at Scherzer’s peripherals, he has a 0.99 WHIP, a 2.41 ERA and a 9-5 record. Whether the voters take into account advanced stats like WAR or simply go with the more traditional ones, it feels like Scherzer has some catching up to do.

Is Anyone Else in the Race?

When you take a look at the odds, three of the six contenders on the board are at +1200 or beyond, so that tells the story. However, Stephen Strasburg is not too far behind at +600. He’s been incredible this year, going 14-4 with a 1.04 WHIP and 3.26 ERA, but his numbers still trail Ryu by quite a bit.

Also, Strasburg has mostly had one great month and the others were solid, but not Cy Young-worthy. He’s allowed just four earned runs over his last five starts, posting an ERA of 1.14 in that span. His other three months of action wouldn’t have put him in the conversation.

What’s the Best Bet?

If you’re betting this right now, the choice is Ryu. He’s the leader in the race, he’s coming off a phenomenal month and we don’t know what to expect from Scherzer. If he was healthy, I might opt to take a flier on him but as it stands now, he’s too risky right now.

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