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Justin Verlander Odds to Win AL Cy Young with Picks and Predictions
by - 3/24/2014

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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander

The 2014 MLB season actually got underway this past weekend with a two-game series between Los Angeles and Arizona in Australia, but most of the betting public is focused on Monday, March 31, as the official opening day for a new year of Americaís favorite pastime.

Bovada has you covered with a full set of futures odds for both team and individual player bets, including this seasonís American League Cy Young award. In the first of a three-part series, I will take an in-depth look at the top three candidates to win this yearís award starting with third-favorite Justin Verlander at 10/1.

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The Detroit Tigers right-hander actually opened at 12/1 to win this yearís AL Cy Young award, but the betting public has already pushed him a couple of spots up the list with some early money. Last yearís winner in the American League was his teammate Max Sherzer, and even though both of these pitchers are now tied at 10/1 odds to win, I am giving the slight edge to Verlander in terms of having the better value of the two at these odds.

Verlander is no stranger to winning this award after laying claim to both the Cy Young and the AL MVP award in 2011. That season he went 24-5 with an ERA of 2.40 and 250 strikeouts in 34 starts. The following season, in defense of both titles, he made 33 starts and went 17-8 with a slightly elevated ERA of 2.64. He registered 239 strikeouts in 2012, and as good as all these numbers were, they were not still good enough to keep the Tampa Bayís David Price from winning the Cy Young that season.

The 2013 MLB season was a step backwards for Verlander in terms of his overall numbers in what was his eighth season in the majors as a full-time starter. He still made a full 34 starts, but he registered only 13 wins verses 12 losses, which were by far the fewest of his career. His ERA ballooned up to 3.46, and his strikeouts dropped to 217. He suffered through some velocity issues throughout the season, but he did end things on a strong note, especially in the playoffs.

The big question heading into this season: was last yearís results just a blip on the radar screen, or are his best days as a dominant starter already behind him? I am betting that last year was a perfect setup for an incredible performance in 2014 behind a team that many experts are picking to go all the way. Since earning a spot in Detroitís starting rotation in 2006, Verlander has made no fewer than 30 starts in any one season. He has pitched an average of 197 innings, with his highest total coming in 2011 (251.0). He has averaged 185.7 strikeouts a season, and he has a career ERA of 3.41 and a 1.19 WHIP.

Consistency and drive would be two words I would use to describe Verlander as one of the top two or three starters in the American League. He fell off pace in 2008 with an 11-17 record and an overall 4.84 ERA while still making 33 starts and pitching 201 innings. The following season he stormed back with 19 wins in 35 starts. He tallied 269 strikeouts that year, which was the most in his eight-year career, and his ERA dropped to 3.45. Verlander finished third in the American League Cy Young voting that season behind Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke.

So far this exhibition season Verlander does not appear to be showing any ill effects from offseason surgery to repair a core muscle injury, and he is still penciled in as the Tigersí starter for their season opener against Kansas City next Monday. He may not go on to win this yearís award in light of a ton of stiff competition in the American League, but if you are looking for the best value in Bovadaís Cy Young futures odds, he would easily be my top bet at 10/1.

Want to try a baseball handicapper for free? Docís Sports is offering $60 worth of memberís baseball picks absolutely free with no obligation. Sign up for winning baseball picks here.

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