We’re entering those dog days of summer in the Major League Baseball season and the teams and players who perform here and now are sure to line themselves up for not only postseason play but postseason awards as well. The Cy Young is one of the biggest individual awards MLB has and is always an interesting race that can come down to a pitcher’s last start in the very last game. The award for the baseball season’s best pitcher works a little different than the other awards though. All-Star nods, MVP’s, and Gold Gloves are given out every year as well but require far more luck and politic-ing. The Cy Young is a completely different story. This is a total merit-based award where only the individual’s stats matter. A pitcher’s performance in April is just as important as the pitcher’s performance in September. It always makes for good baseball as well as good debate.
This year’s candidates are a fine, mixed bag of strong throwing arms. Some are old and some are new, but all are having fantastic seasons. There’s really only three pitchers with the credentials to bring home the hardware: newcomer Luis Severino, perennial favorite Chris Sale, and old-timer Justin Verlander. All three are power pitching elites leading the way on good teams with strong lineups every night. It’s not a surprise their teams are also the three best teams in the Majors. Here’s a quick look where they stand right now and where there’s value on a future’s wager for the American League Cy Young.
Luis Severino +175
The New York Yankees starting rotation has been shaky at best in an otherwise great season. The batting order and bullpen have carried them to second place in the AL East and first in the Wild Card. The staff’s one highmark has been the breakout performance of Luis Severino. He finds himself in the top eight of every statistical category and tied for first in wins. And in an age of hard-throwing pitchers, he throws harder. Starters just don’t hit 100 on the gun with his type of frequency. Still a bit of a surprise to be seen as the slight favorite in the Cy Young odds especially when the two guys right behind him have the stronger pedigree. As good as a season as he’s had and will finish with, +175 is not the value we need to lay a wager.
Chris Sale +200
The Boston Red Sox are enjoying one of their strongest seasons in not only their franchise’s history but in baseball’s history as well, winning games at a near .700 clip and, of course, their staff ace has plenty to do with that success. Chris Sale leads the American League with a 2.04 ERA as well as in strikeouts with 207. He started the All-Star Game which you would think would give him the edge as far as the Cy Young futures go but it does give us a good number at +200. If you get two to one odds on Chris Sale to win anything you should probably grab it. Sale has a history of being ineffective in late September and into October and because of this, the Red Sox have been lightening his workload all season. He’s on the DL as of this week but the club is insisting he’ll only miss one start. When he comes back, it’s a good wager he’ll be ready to finish an already tremendous season.
Justin Verlander +275
The Houston Astros midseason acquisition from a year ago continues to appear to be one of the best trades ever made. Since joining the Astro’s, Verlander has been in vintage form. He took last year’s success directly into this season and his numbers are even better. Right behind Sale in ERA and Strikeouts, the big man is leading the league in innings pitched. While his value to the Astros can’t be measured, seeing him at +275 is the of value we are looking for on a future. With Severino looking like he is coming back to Earth and Sale showing some signs of his annual slowdown, Verlander may bring the most value to the table and makes the best bet for Cy Young.