AL Cy Young odds update: Verlander favored to win award for 3rd time
Two months into the season, hitters are finally finding their groove at the plate after a brutal start to the year. But a few pitchers are still dominating the competition.
That includes Justin Verlander, who owns a 2.23 ERA through 10 starts with an MLB-best six wins and a 0.804 WHIP for the Astros. Those numbers have earned him front-runner status to win the AL Cy Young for the third time in his career and second time in the last four seasons.
Verlander is the +375 favorite after making just one start in his previous two seasons following a stellar 2019 campaign, when he led the majors in innings pitched (223), wins (21), WHIP (0.803), and H/9 (5.5). Injuries cost him most of 2020 and all of 2021 in what seemed like the twilight of his career.
Instead, the 39-year-old has reinvented himself in 2022, posting seven quality starts in 10 tries. But he isn't the only one dealing through the first two months of this MLB season. Here are the full odds to win AL Cy Young and a few other names worth monitoring:
|Lance McCullers Jr.||+15000|
Nestor Cortes, Yankees (+600)
Who in the world saw this coming? After bouncing around the majors for a few years, Cortes has clearly found a home in New York, where he leads the league in ERA (1.50) and xERA (2.19) through his first 10 starts this year.
He's not generating cheap outs, either. The crafty lefty has struck out 29.7% of the batters he faces - fourth-best in the AL among qualified starters - while walking just 6.1%, and he's allowing hard contact just 33.6% of the time. He's been attacking batters all year long, leading the majors in first-pitch strike rate (71.2%) - a recipe for success in a hitter-friendly park like Yankee Stadium.
Given how unexpected his rise was from 36th-round pick to Cy Young contender, it's hard to predict whether the next four months will look like the last two. But Cortes hasn't looked like a fluke so far, and his numbers are award-worthy.
Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays (+800)
While run prevention is still the name of the game for Cy Young winners, it isn't everything, and few pitchers boast better advanced metrics than Gausman. The Blue Jays ace leads the majors in FIP (1.61) while also pacing MLB in swing rate (58.1%) and swing rate outside the zone (47.6%), highlighting just how much he's toyed with batters all season long.
We saw similar dominance a year ago with the Giants, when Gausman held 11 of his first 12 opponents to one run or fewer but eased up down the stretch. He's allowing more runs to start this year but has been in complete control overall - his 73-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio is easily the best in baseball - so we may see a stronger home stretch for the now-perennial Cy Young contender.
Dylan Cease, White Sox (+1500)
We've been on the Cease hype train since before the season started, and while his ERA (3.39) ranks outside the top 20 in the majors, a look under the hood highlights just how dominant he's been at times - and how good he could be over the back half of this season.
Entering Monday, Cease led the majors in strikeouts per nine (12.5) with the lowest zone contact rate (76.4%) behind a filthy fastball and devasting slider, which have each coaxed at least 30 punchouts this season. His issue has been control: he also leads MLB in walks per nine (4.63) and has generated a first-pitch strike just 61% of the time, among the lowest marks in the bigs.
If Cease can attack earlier in the count, he has the stuff to justify it, which would be a major boon to his entire profile. Given how strong his strikeout numbers already are, there's value on a late-season surge for the White Sox stud.