The Major League Baseball season is in full swing, and pitchers around the league are finally starting to shake off the rust brought on by the short spring. The lockout and truncated spring training schedule that followed wreaked havoc on pitchers, in particular. The quick ramp-up period meant most starters were not fully stretched out once Opening Day rolled around on April 7th. At this point, however, things are starting to get back to normal. We’re seeing more starters top the 100-pitch plateau on a regular basis, which wasn’t something we saw much at all through most of April.
The Cy Young races in both leagues should be fascinating. The presumptive preseason favorite on the National League side, Jacob deGrom, has yet to throw a pitch after suffering a shoulder injury in the spring. The Mets are optimistic deGrom will return at some point fairly soon, but the door is now open for others to jump ahead of him in the NL Cy Young running.
The AL Cy Young field is even more wide-open. Last year’s winner, Robbie Ray, is off to a fairly rough start for Seattle, which makes a repeat look rather unlikely at this stage. With so much uncertainty and so much of the season still left, what better time than now to take a gander at the updated Cy Young Award odds in both leagues? MLB betting sites are doing their best to stay on top of the latest developments, but you can always find an edge if you know where to look.
2022 AL Cy Young Award Odds
Justin Verlander (+600)
Justin Verlander is no stranger to the AL Cy Young Award. The future Hall-of-Famer has won it twice in his career, most recently in 2019. 2019 was also his last full season, unfortunately. He injured his elbow early in the shortened 2020 season, which required Tommy John surgery. That kept him sidelined for all of last year, though he has looked no worse for the wear through the first month of 2022.
Through six starts, the Astros right-hander is 4-1 with a tidy 1.55 ERA.
His 3.12 SIERA suggests some regression is likely due on that ERA, but that was always going to be the case. JV’s strikeout rate (25.4 percent) isn’t what it was pre-injury, but there are a number of factors in play there. He’s 39 and coming off of a major injury. The league also cracked down on pitchers using sticky stuff on the baseballs last year while Verlander was away. In his last full campaign, his K-rate was up at a ridiculous 35.4 percent.
For the 8th time in his career, Justin Verlander took a no-hit bid into the 8th inning 🔥 @astros get the 5-0 W pic.twitter.com/aUhV6jQ7sE
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 11, 2022
Even without quite as much strikeout stuff, Verlander looks dominant again in ’22. If he can stay healthy and continues to win games at a healthy clip – which should be no problem as the headliner of the mighty Astros’ rotation – Verlander will be in the race all summer long. Taking a stab at Verlander’s current +600 Cy Young Award odds makes plenty of sense.
Kevin Gausman (+600)
The Blue Jays let Ray walk to Seattle this offseason, only to replace him with ex-Giants right-hander Kevin Gausman. Based on the early-season results, the Blue Jays knew what they were doing. While Ray struggles to find his footing with the Mariners, Gausman looks like one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball.
Through six starts with Toronto, Gausman is 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA. Unlike Verlander, however, Gausman’s SIERA (2.12) says he’s deserving of that tiny ERA. Gausman has whiffed a whopping 31.3 percent of hitters he’s faced, with a minuscule walk rate of just 0.7 percent. He has struck out 46 while issuing just one free pass through six games. The 31-year-old was tremendous last year in San Francisco, but he seems to have leveled up again this season. His velocity numbers are up across the board, and he looks fully capable of putting up impressive numbers despite the difficult opposition he’ll face in the AL East.
The 17-15 Blue Jays haven’t been quite as unstoppable as many expected coming into the year, but Gausman certainly looks the part. Verlander has the name recognition, but I slightly prefer Gausman at the same +600 Cy Young odds, as of now.
Shohei Ohtani (+600)
The fact that we’re even discussing Shohei Ohtani in the Cy Young race is fairly incredible. The reigning league MVP slugged 46 home runs a season ago, yet here he is, tied with Verlander, Gausman, and Gerrit Cole for the best Cy Young Award odds in the American League (+600).
Ohtani’s exploits at the plate have no bearing on his Cy Young candidacy, and he belongs in this conversation based solely on his pitching numbers.
Through six outings on the season, the right-hander is 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA. His 35.4 percent strikeout rate is the fourth-best in the majors behind Carlos Rodon, Shane McClanahan, and Dylan Cease. Uh-oh, Ohtani is getting better!
Uh-oh, Ohtani is getting better!
(MLBStats x @Googlecloud) pic.twitter.com/v9aG6EFNFU
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) May 11, 2022
Most importantly, Ohtani has reined in the control issues that plagued him earlier in his career.
The 27-year-old phenom has a career 9.1 percent walk rate at the big-league level, but so far this season, his BB% sits at just 5.4 percent. If this version of Ohtani is the one the Angels will have on the mound all season long, we have to start taking this team seriously as a World Series contender. And, we’ll have to take Ohtani seriously as an AL Cy Young frontrunner.
Assuming he makes enough starts to qualify, why can’t he win this award, too?
Dylan Cease (+700)
Dylan Cease posted one of the wildest stat lines we’ve seen all year on Thursday night against the Yankees. The right-hander was touched up for six runs on six hits, including a couple of home runs, in an eventual 15-7 setback. However, Cease also struck out 11 hitters in just four innings of work. It was easily Cease’s worst outing of the young season, but I’m sure a lot of pitchers would kill to strike out 11 in a “bad” start.
Even the best pitchers in the league take their lumps every now and then. Through seven games, the 26-year-old is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA, but his 2.51 SIERA says his ERA is a little on the unlucky side. Cease owns the third-best K-rate in the majors at 36.9 percent. Like Ohtani, he has also fixed some of the control problems that gave him headaches in previous seasons, which has helped him take a big step forward so far in ’22.
Thursday’s game was just the second time in seven starts that Cease yielded more than two runs. He has easily been the White Sox’ most reliable arm early in the year. Chicago has been another relative disappointment at just 15-15, but they should get back on track sooner or later. I’d sooner bet on Verlander, Gausman, or Ohtani at +600 than Cease at +700, but don’t be surprised if he makes a run at this award this season.
Shane McClanahan (+2500)
I’m not sure why there is such a big gap between Shane McClanahan and the frontrunners in the AL Cy Young odds, as of now. The Rays’ ace is listed at just +2500 despite having posted similar numbers to the likes of Ohtani, Gausman, and Cease. Perhaps pitching for the small-market Rays is costing him in terms of recognition.
Through his first seven starts of the year, the second-year lefty is 2-2 with a 2.52 ERA. He likely won’t rack up many wins given Kevin Cash’s liberal use of his bullpen, but the rest of the numbers should be there.
Only Rodon has a higher strikeout rate than McClanahan’s 38.2 percent mark on the year. His control numbers (6.6 percent walks) are also impressive, especially for a hurler with such limited major league experience. McClanahan’s 1.84 SIERA is actually the best in the entire sport among starters, and he’s the only pitcher whose SIERA sits south of 2.00.
He won’t get the win but Shane McClanahan SHOVED today pic.twitter.com/K8Q1K1sPEe
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) May 12, 2022
McClanahan has struck out 11 hitters in two of his last three starts, including a particularly impressive effort earlier this week against the aforementioned Angels.
McClanahan’s numbers stack up well against those of his fellow contenders, so why is he listed with such long AL Cy Young odds at +2500? Who knows?
Regardless, you can take advantage of the oddsmakers’ skepticism and hop on the bandwagon while the odds are still too long.
Who Will Win AL Cy Young?
With no clear-cut favorite as of now, there is plenty of upside in the current 2022 Cy Young Award odds everywhere you look. McClanahan is a very obvious value at +2500, and I can’t imagine his odds will be this long for much longer. Eventually, those in charge of setting the Cy Young odds will take note and adjust accordingly.
Pounce now before it’s too late.
Otherwise, Ohtani, Gausman, and Verlander are all outstanding options at +600 apiece. I’m a bit less enthused by Cease at a similar +700 number, but a Cy Young Award may well be in his future at some point, too.
I will rank the best value bets to win AL Cy Young this season below:
2022 NL Cy Young Award Odds
Corbin Burnes (+400)
Corbin Burnes has the best Cy Young odds of any player in the sport at +400 to take home the NL prize for a second straight year. Burnes ultimately beat deGrom to win it last year, and he has picked up right where he left off.
Through his first six outings of 2022, Burnes is just 1-2, but with an impressive 1.86 ERA. That’s a hard-luck 1-2 record, to be sure. Burnes’ 2.27 SIERA says his ERA is fairly legitimate, and he’s still striking everybody out (34.2 percent). He led the big leagues in K-rate last season (35.6 percent), so that’s hardly a shocking development. Elite control, strong groundball stuff, and the ability to limit damage means Burnes checks literally every box when it comes to being a top-of-the-rotation ace.
The Brewers look like a legit threat to the Dodgers in the NL pennant race, as well, thanks, in no small part, to Burnes’ contributions. If the voting were held today, Burnes would likely win NL Cy Young again. There’s still a long way to go, but the current +400 Cy Young odds are still very favorable.
Max Scherzer (+500)
Max Scherzer will probably start to show signs of aging someday, but that day has not yet arrived. The Mets made Scherzer the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history in terms of average annual earnings this past winter, and he’s made that look like a wise investment thus far.
Max Scherzer fires back at Noah Syndergaard after IG story saying #Mets no-no wasn’t “real” 👀 pic.twitter.com/2Pv2RBjJOQ
— FAX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFAX) May 11, 2022
Through six games, Mad Max is 4-1 with a 2.92 ERA. The strikeout stuff (34.3 percent) is as good as ever, though he has already allowed five home runs.
Of course, a flyball pitcher with a wide platoon split will always be susceptible to some lefty power, but he has otherwise done a fine job of keeping his opponents off the scoreboard early in his first year in New York. Scherzer’s dominance has helped the Mets get off to a stellar 22-11 start, which puts them 6.5 games ahead of the Braves and Phillies atop the NL East.
We know awards voters won’t ever shy away from rewarding a player like this on a team in the biggest media market of all, either. The three-time Cy Young winner is a good bet to make it four at +500.
Carlos Rodon (+800)
By many measures, Carlos Rodon has been the best pitcher in the National League this season. The first-year Giant leads the majors with a 39.3 percent strikeout rate along with an incredibly impressive 1.80 ERA. His 2.22 SIERA and 2.35 xFIP suggest that ERA is deserved, as well.
Control (8.9 percent walks) has been a minor issue for him, but we’ve seen plenty of other pitchers around the league struggling in that department early on. Rodon has only allowed three barreled balls out of a total of 69 batted-ball events, which is also among the lowest in the league for a starter. Let’s not forget Rodon was squarely in the hunt for the AL Cy Young Award last year with the White Sox before injuries got in the way. Unfortunately, that’s been a theme of Rodon’s entire career. He hasn’t made more than 24 starts in a season since 2016. He is utterly dominant when healthy, but he just has not been healthy nearly enough to garner much awards recognition.
Could that change this year? Hopefully. The Giants should once again make a real push for a National League postseason spot, and Rodon is clearly among the game’s elite starters. If he can avoid a major injury, his +800 NL Cy Young odds look a little too low.
Clayton Kershaw (+800)
Clayton Kershaw hasn’t been in his prime for quite a while now, but he is still one of the most reliable starters in all of baseball. The 34-year-old is off to a stellar start this season, with a record of 4-0 through five starts and a 1.80 ERA. Walker Buehler has the best Cy Young odds of any Dodger (+500), but Kershaw is still the actual ace of this starting staff.
Kershaw’s strikeout rate has consistently remained north of 28 percent over the last three years despite the fact that his fastball typically tops out around 91 miles an hour.
His slider and curveball are still as elite as they come, which makes the fastball appear faster than it really is. Kershaw still keeps most batted balls on the ground (49 percent), and he hasn’t posted a walk rate north of six percent since 2012. He’s ridiculous.
Today was the 63rd time in his career Clayton Kershaw has gone at least 7 innings without allowing a run
His ERA on the season is now 1.80 and his 0.73 WHIP is the best in the National League pic.twitter.com/ewLneqhDd5
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) May 7, 2022
The Dodgers have been the stingiest pitching staff in baseball, and Kershaw has played a major role. Whether he can keep it up remains to be seen, but the veteran certainly belongs in the NL Cy Young conversation through the first month of the campaign. I’m not thrilled to get him at +800 2022 Cy Young odds, but he’s firmly in play, for now.
Zack Wheeler (+2500)
Zack Wheeler got off to a slow start thanks to some offseason issues. He started to feel some soreness in his pitching shoulder back in December, which interrupted his offseason throwing program. That issue certainly wasn’t helped at all by the lockout, which kept Wheeler from getting the necessary treatment for the injury.
A 1-3 record and a 4.26 ERA through six starts certainly isn’t Cy Young material.
However, he does seem to be improving with each passing start. His fastball was sitting around 98 in Thursday’s outing against the Dodgers, which is a welcome sight for the Phillies after his velo was down through his first few starts.
Zack Wheeler, 98mph Fastball (foul) and 91mph Slider (swinging K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/TqR3n4fEnH
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 13, 2022
Let’s not forget he was squarely in the running for NL Cy Young last year, when he posted a career-best 29.1 percent strikeout rate and led the junior circuit in innings pitched (213.1).
There aren’t many bona fide workhorse starters in the game these days, but Wheeler is one of the few. This is just a case of a pitcher being mispriced at +2500 Cy Young odds.
He finished as the runner-up to Burnes last year, and I think his numbers will continue to improve as the season progresses.
Who Will Win NL Cy Young?
If you want value, Wheeler at +2500 is the guy that really stands out. I think the Phillies are good enough to make a playoff push, and I’m optimistic that Wheeler will continue to rebound from a less-than-stellar start.
If he does, his aforementioned 2022 Cy Young odds are much longer than they should be.
Kershaw (+800) and Scherzer (+500) are the elder statesmen here. Both are still great, but will they keep it up all year long? It’s likely, but not a certainty. Burnes (+400) is easily the safest bet of the bunch, while Rodon (+800) offers nice upside despite his obvious injury risk.
PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!