deGrom, Scherzer Both See NL Cy Young Odds Improve; Who’s the Best Bet in Short Season?

Jacob deGrom throwing a pitch
Jacob deGrom is favored to win a third-straight NL Cy Young. But could a shortened season actually hurt his cause? Photo by slgckgc {flickr).
  • 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.

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
2019 4.12 1.12 5.16 1.08
2018 1.62 0.82 4.24 0.82
2017 2.94 0.98 4.05 1.14

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

2018
VS
2019

6 Starts 5
3-0 Record 2-3
2.06 ERA 4.85
1.04 WHIP 1.39
48/11 K/BB 43/10

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.

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.

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.

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