- With a shortened MLB season, the NL Cy Young picture has changed
- Some pitchers have seen their odds improve as baseball waits to restart
- Who is worth an investment and who you should stay away from in 2020?
As the days go by, it seems more and more likely we’ll see an abbreviated baseball season in 2020.
Shortening the season from 160 games to anywhere from 80 to 100 significantly changes the landscape.
Not only does it change things for teams that struggle to start and finish the season, but it affects players too, especially when it comes to awards like the Cy Young.
Here’s how the 2020 NL Cy Young odds look heading into May.
2020 NL Cy Young Award Odds
|Player||2019 NL Cy Young Vote Points||Odds|
|Jacob deGrom (NYM)||29||+336|
|Max Scherzer (WSH)||0||+538|
|Walker Buehler (LAD)||2||+625|
|Jack Flaherty (STL)||69||+775|
|Yu Darvish (CHC)||0||+1213|
|Stephen Strasburg (WSH)||53||+1275|
|Luis Castillo (CIN)||0||+1350|
|Trevor Bauer (CIN)||0||+1675|
|Clayton Kershaw (LAD)||3||+1800|
|Aaron Nola (PHI)||0||+2250|
|Mike Soroka (ATL)||9||+2800|
|Chris Paddack (SD)||0||+3000|
|Patrick Corbin (WSH)||1||+3250|
|Sonny Gray (CIN)||4||+3700|
|Brandon Woodruff (MIL)||0||+3825|
Odds as of Apr. 29th.
The three pitchers leading the 2020 NL Cy Young odds have essentially been the same since February 7th. While Jack Flaherty has held onto fourth, it’s been two-time defending champion Jacob deGrom leading the way.
After that, Max Scherzer sits second and Walker Buehler third.
Based on intimidation and dominance, you’d assume a short season benefits Scherzer, right?
Can Former NL Cy Young Winner Scherzer Dominate?
Scherzer’s 2019 was statistically great. It just wasn’t up to his normal standards.
He made 27 starts, which was the first time he didn’t cross 30 in a full season in his career. His 5.7 WAR? His worst since 2014 (5.8), and his ERA rose to 2.92 after consecutive seasons at 2.50.
Max Scherzer's slider in 2019 generated:
– 4.03 wSL/C
– .176 xBA
– .231 xSLG
– .179 xwOBA
– 50% Whiff%
– 30.8 PutAway%
Here are 40 seconds of his sliders with the highest spin rates: pic.twitter.com/MeuXN1FAdd
— MLB Splits (@MLBSplits) April 27, 2020
These are high-class problems to have to be sure, but could it hamper him in a short year?
Starting and Finishing Scherzer’s Last Three Seasons
|Season||April ERA||April WHIP||Sept ERA||Sept WHIP|
While we can point to Scherzer’s slow start last year as a troubling sign, his past three September’s don’t offer many reassurances.
His ERA has consistently climbed in the last month of the MLB season. This is a consideration under normal circumstances. But in a four-month season? It makes winning the Cy Young tough.
Ultimately, we’ll see if Scherzer’s slow down is weather or workload related come September.
DeGrom Needs Strong Start for NL Three-peat
For Jacob deGrom, a strong start is key to winning his third NL Cy Young award.
But if he suffers through a start like 2019, you can be quick to cross him off the list.
deGrom April Comparisons: 2018 vs 2019
DeGrom’s start to 2018 was significantly better than his start to 2019. But April was actually deGrom’s second-worst month in that historical 2018.
Jacob deGrom's avg. velocity since 2017:
– 4-seam –
2017: 95.2 (age-29 season)
2018: 96.0 (age-30 season)
2019: 96.9 (age-31 season)
– Slider –
– Changeup –
2019: 90.3 pic.twitter.com/WOI8V1Pb2x
— SUPERROOKIE45 (@SUPERROOKIE45) April 29, 2020
In a shortened season, if deGrom’s struggles come at the start, it’ll be tough to rebound.
Soroka, Paddack Dark Horses in NL
Further down the list, Mike Soroka and Chris Paddack have some long-shot value.
Soroka was absolutely dominant last year for a talented Atlanta team. After a 25-inning debut in 2018, he dropped his ERA from 3.51 to 2.68 in 2019.
#MLB Pitch Quality Leaders
2019 Two Seam Fastball
Vertical Break (min 200 pitches)
— MLB Quality of Pitch (@qopbaseball) April 23, 2020
Soroka’s September was his worst month, but a dominant two-month start like he had last year will have him in the driver’s seat.
As for Paddack, he was top-15 in the NL in K/9 and top ten in BB/9 for NL starters with at least 130 innings pitched. While it can be a luck-based stat, he also had the lowest BABIP of that group at .237.
His FIP and xFIP weren’t elite, yet they still provide a promising 2020 picture.
Youth is Served in NL Cy Young Race
When it comes to 2020, short season or not, it may be a changing of the guard.
We’re choosing to stay away from Scherzer and deGrom here because of the schedule.
If you’re eyeing a favorite, go with LA’s Walker Buehler. And if you want a longer shot? Mike Soroka could pay off in a big way.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.