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Sportsbooks Split on Whether Scherzer or Ryu Should Be NL Cy Young Favorite

David Golokhov

by David Golokhov in MLB Baseball

Jul 2, 2019 · 4:52 PM PDT

Hyun-Jin Ryu pitching for the Dodgers.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has had an incredible year and should be the front-runner for the Cy Young Award. Photo By Keith Allison (Flickr).
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu is 9-1 on the year with a 0.90 WHIP and a 3.2 WAR
  • Max Scherzer has the better WAR between the pitchers at 5.1
  • Ryu has pitched more than 152 innings just once in his career; he’s already at 103 innings this season

Los Angeles Dodgers stud Hyun-Jin Ryu and Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer look like the two front runners for the National League Cy Young Award. On average, Ryu is the favorite at -130 while Scherzer is right behind at +130, while all other competitors are at +1400 or longer. But different sportsbooks see the race differently.

Just look at the table below, which juxtaposes the odds from two online betting sites.

2019 NL Cy Young Award Odds

Pitcher NL Cy Young Award Odds at Sportsbook A NL Cy Young Award Odds at Sportsbook B
Hyun-Jin Ryu -125 +125
Max Scherzer +400 -225
Mike Soroka +700 +3750
Clayton Kershaw +1000 +3000
Walker Buehler +1000 +1800

Which of the two, Scherzer or Ryu, is the best bet, given that they are both getting plus-money at one of the sites?

The Case For Ryu

Ryu has been one of the biggest surprises this season in terms of player performance. It’s not that the 32-year-old has been bad before – he had a 1.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP last year – it’s just few people saw him elevating his game to this level.

He’s 9-1 on the season with a 0.90 WHIP and a 3.2 WAR. The Dodgers have won eight of the last 10 times he’s started. And he’s already started 16 this year; he only started 15 games last season. What might be even more impressive is his incredible 13.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio, almost double any other pitcher in baseball.

Ryu is coming off a rough outing where he gave up seven earned runs and three home runs in just 4.0 innings of work. He had allowed two earned runs or less in every single other start this season. We’ll see if that’s a turning of the tide or just one bad outing at Coors Field in Colorado.

Where Ryu has the edge is that the Dodgers are one of the top teams in the league and a primary contender for the World Series. Many will feel that he’s the best pitcher on the best team. He’ll have a small edge on Scherzer there if their numbers are the same.

The Case For Scherzer

Scherzer might look like he’s a lot further behind Ryu because of his 2.43 ERA but we know that this number can be misleading. He has a 1.00 WHIP and has a 5.1 WAR – the highest mark in the National League.

Other than the WAR, Scherzer might not have the strongest case but he’s kicked it up a notch over the last month. Scherzer has allowed a total of six earned runs in his last eight starts (57 innings pitched) and he’s won six straight decisions.

With Scherzer, we know that he has the stamina for this race as he’s thrown at least 200 innings every year since 2012. As for Ryu, is it possible he tires out? Ryu has thrown 103 innings this season but hasn’t pitched more than 192 since his rookie season in 2013. Could that be a factor?

What’s The Best Bet?

While it feels like there’s value with Scherzer, he’s going to have to really step on the gas or Ryu is going to have to really fall off. The Dodgers do tend to be careful with their pitchers and shut them down early, but the Nationals might take it easy with Scherzer too in a year where they aren’t going to compete.

If I were betting this prop, I’d take the +125 with Ryu here. He’s been the best pitcher on the best team, and everyone else has too much work to do to catch up.

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