I conclude my look at preseason MLB player props now re-posted and updated at Bovada with a breakdown of the Cy Young odds in each league.
In the American League back in the spring, it really seemed like four pitchers stood head and shoulders about the rest: the Tigers’ Justin Verlander, the Angels’ Jered Weaver, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and the Rays’ David Price.
Verlander was the 9/2 Bovada favorite to become the first AL pitcher to repeat as the Cy Young since Pedro Martinez in 1999-2000. I tended to lean against Verlander because he simply couldn’t again put up the incredible numbers he did in 2011. And that has been the case as Verlander is “only” 9-5 with a 2.58 ERA for the disappointing Tigers. But he leads the American League in innings pitched (132.2), strikeouts (128) and complete games (five). Verlander leads the major leagues in starts of eight innings or more with nine. The guy is just a horse.
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Now Verlander is at 3/1 to win the Cy, behind Weaver (5/2) and tied with Chicago’s Chris Sale, the surprise interloper of the expected Cy Young favorites.
Weaver (10-1, MLB-best 1.96) has been unreal for the surging Halos. It looked like his Cy Young chances might have vanished when he hit the DL in late May. But since returning, Weaver is 4-0 with a 0.33 ERA over 27.2 innings. Weaver has allowed more than two earned runs just once since the start of May.
The White Sox are nowhere near leading the AL Central without the surprising Sale, who some are comparing to a young Randy Johnson (although Sale is a good five inches shorter). The lefty Sale, in his first season starting, is 10-2 with a 1.98 ERA. One has to wonder if all those innings will catch up to Sale, however, as he’s not used to throwing so much. The Pale Hose better hope not.
Price (5/1) and Sabathia (11/2) round out the Top 5 re-posted favorites. Price is definitely a better option there at 11-4 with 2.82 ERA. Sabathia, meanwhile, is currently on the DL for the first time as a Yankee, so his Cy chances are probably gone. He has been solid-but-not-great, going 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA. Sabathia should be back right after the break.
Back in late March I picked Sabathia, but now I am taking Weaver. I have more faith that the Angels will be a playoff team than Detroit and I think that’s the different for voters in choosing between Weaver and Verlander.
In the National League, Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay opened as the 11/2 favorites at the book, but neither guy will add another Cy Young to his collection. Kershaw (6-5, 2.91 ERA) has been good but isn’t getting much run support. He won’t approach last year’s stellar numbers and isn’t even a betting option now. Neither is Halladay (4-5, 3.98). He wasn’t likely going to be a Cy Young contender before he went on the DL on May 27 but certainly won’t be now. Doc should be back later this month to try and save the Phillies.
My choice back in the spring was another Phillie: Lefty Cole Hamels, who was then 14/1 and now is 10/1. Hamels could still win this award after going 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA in the first half. But he might not even be in the National League come Aug. 1 as it’s expected the Phillies will trade him, with the Tigers a heavy suitor. I also mentioned the best longer-shot bet in March was Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez at 25/1. That’s looking good right now, with Gonzalez (12-3, 2.92) now at 11/2.
Bu the two favorites currently are Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (5/4) and Reds ace Johnny Cueto (4/1). Dickey (12-1, 2.40) has come from nowhere to be the pitching story of the first half. He leads the NL in WHIP, wins above replacement, wins, complete games and double-figure strikeout games. A knuckleballer has never won the Cy Young award. Cueto is 10-5 with a 2.39 ERA, but I don’t think he has enough “juice” to win the award.
Matt Cain (9-3, 2.62) and Stephen Strasburg (9-4, 2.82) are both also at 11/2 with Gonzalez (and Pittsburgh’s James McDonald). I would love Strasburg if he wasn’t going to get shut down by the team in early September. I think Cain (who opened at 15/1) wins the award now. The NL All-Star Game starter has that perfect game to his credit this year and I expect the Giants to win the NL West. Cain has easily surpassed Tim Lincecum (who opened at 10/1 but is possibly the worst starter in the NL right now) as the ace of that staff; I liked Cain in the spring but thought he would get overshadowed by Lincecum. I expect both Dickey and the Mets to fade in the second half.
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