The AL Cy Young markets are pretty locked in at this point, as only three pitchers are really being given a good chance at winning the award. The preseason favorite, Gerrit Cole, remains the favorite, but he has some company with Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon.
Lynn was pretty reasonable priced coming into the season. His Chicago White Sox were expected to be a really strong team and that has come to fruition. Lynn’s numbers are a big reason why, but his rotation mate, Carlos Rodon, is the biggest surprise starting pitcher in baseball.
Rodon was one of about 28 pitchers to throw a no-hitter earlier this season before the foreign substance crackdown and back when offense was at historically low levels.
There are others on the periphery like Chris Bassitt and Nathan Eovaldi that could slot in if injuries pop up.
At present, it looks tough for Cole to win the award given how much his numbers have changed and how much his perception has fallen since struggling after MLB took away Spider Tack and the other sticky substances to increase spin. One of the two White Sox hurlers has a great chance at the win, especially with a lot of Central Division games left.
2021 AL Cy Young Award Odds
AL CY YOUNG HANDICAPPING
As mentioned in the intro, it is really important to find durable starting pitchers when betting on this award. Relievers rarely win. You need to find starters that are going to pitch enough innings to accumulate stats. There are certain benchmarks to look for, especially in the current high-strikeout environment that we’re seeing around MLB.
Wins are also helpful. You don’t necessarily have to be on a playoff team, but being on a team that won’t be a bottom-feeder really helps. Sometimes it can be the difference between winning and finishing second or third to have 15+ wins. That is an ever-changing benchmark as well, as specialization has taken hold in the game and starters are working fewer innings than ever. That means that they are getting fewer chances at winning games.
The best candidates to win the Cy Young Award have a chance at filling up multiple columns. If you can’t win games, post a low ERA with a high strikeout rate. If you don’t strike out a lot of guys, play on a good defensive team that can keep your ERA low and help you win a lot of games.
A grey area with handicapping the Cy Young is to look at where players play and also how they handle the media. Guys are more likely to get the benefit of the doubt if they play in visible markets and if they are kind to the people that vote on the awards. The players that aren’t well-liked may not get the first-place votes needed to win.
Shop around for the best odds in any futures market, but especially this one. Don’t take a pitcher at +2000 when he can be had for +3000 somewhere else. Don’t settle for +1200 when +1500 is out there. Every little bit that helps your expected return on investment is really, really important in this business and that is an integral part of betting on these higher-variance futures.