Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler works against a San Diego Padres batter during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

BETTING THE 2021 CY YOUNG AWARD WINNERS

The 2021 season has been a very surprising one in both leagues. Many of the perennial preseason favorites to win the Cy Young Award in both the American League and National League have fallen out of contention this year, due to injuries, ineffectiveness, or legal troubles. Big name former winners like Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw have all suffered through injury-plagued seasons while other usually excellent starting pitchers like Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Blake Snell have been surprisingly ineffective this year despite appearing as good bets in March. Let’s do ourselves a favor and not even mention the name of the attention-seeking 2020 Cy Young Award winner, who finds himself in a lot of trouble with the law for his personal conduct off the field (hint: we’re not talking about Shane Bieber).

Both leagues have interesting races, but with very different details. All of the possible winners this year are starting pitchers. While there are some relievers having good seasons this year (Mark Melancon in San Diego, Liam Hendricks with the White Sox and Josh Hader in Milwaukee among them), none of them have been as historically dominant as a reliever would need to be to win the award. Remember, Mariano Rivera never won and he’s the MLB career saves leader.

Let’s look at the top three betting favorites in each league:


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Gerritt Cole, NY YankeesRobbie Ray, TORLance Lynn, CHW
ERA: 2.73ERA: 2.60ERA: 2.59
WHIP: 0.97WHIP: 0.99WHIP: 1.076
INNINGS: 155INNINGS: 166INNINGS: 135.2
STRIKEOUTS: 215STRIKEOUTS: 212STRIKEOUTS: 152

Cole is being touted as the prohibitive favorite (literally) in Vegas (-278). He certainly has the higher profile, salary and has the Cy Young contender history, but as you can see, Ray has been his equal in every regard this season.  Ray’s odds, currently averaging around +300, make him a very nice play with a month remaining in the regular season. Cole likely has key matchups this month vs. Toronto, Boston, Tampa and the Mets, while Ray lines up to possibly face Baltimore and Tampa twice each. He may have a more favorable remaining schedule and is certainly a more appealing bet right now. Lynn (+445) was just recently placed on the IL and has faded from contention in the past few weeks after being a front runner until around the All-Star Game.


NATIONAL LEAGUE

Walker Buehler, LADMax Scherzer, LADCorbin Burnes, MIL
ERA: 2.31ERA: 2.40ERA: 2.38
WHIP: 0.94WHIP: 0.86WHIP: 0.96
INNINGS: 179INNINGS: 146.0INNINGS: 144
STRIKEOUTS: 184STRIKEOUTS: 197STRIKEOUTS: 196

This race has more true possibilities, with no clear leader among these three. (In fact, Burnes’ teammate Brandon Woodruff (+645) is still a very real possibility as well).  Having thrown around 30 more innings than his other competitors, Buehler (+100) has to be seen as the favorite here – and he is, though he had his worst start of his season Sunday night vs. San Francisco. Is he fading as he heads towards the first 200 inning season of his career? A potential issue for both Woodruff and Burnes (+170) finishing strong is the fact that Milwaukee has all but locked up a playoff spot and the Brewers have said that they will be careful with their talented young starters, limiting their innings in order to keep them fresh for what they hope will be a long playoff run. Scherzer’s high odds (+1300 on some sites) make him the most appealing bet right now.  He has won each of his last 4 starts, striking out 34 batters in 24.2 innings in that time and appears to be peaking at the right time. The Dodgers will be playing important games down the stretch as they fight for the National League West division title, so how Buehler and Scherzer perform in big September games will likely decide the winner between the two teammates.

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