Cy Young Betting Breakdown: Are League ERA Leaders Worth Backing?

Cy Young Betting Breakdown: Are League ERA Leaders Worth Backing?
© USA Today

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani dominates the sports news cycle whenever he takes the mound, but he is not close to topping the odds board for the American League Cy Young Award. Meanwhile, the National League Cy Young favorite is already at minus odds.  

With the MLB season on pause because of the All-Star Break, here’s a betting breakdown of the current Cy Young Award race.  

All odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook.  

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American League 

Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay, +205 

The numbers for McClanahan are staggering; he leads the MLB with the lowest ERA at 1.71 and is tied for the second-most strikeouts (147). 

McClanahan has only allowed one run in each of his last six starts and he shut out the St. Louis Cardinals before that stretch started. In 15 starts, he’s surrendered more than two runs just once, when the Minnesota Twins scored three against him. But even then, he was superb, matching his season-high total for single-game strikeouts with 11.  

It’s hard to envision anyone maintaining this type of production through the rest of the season, but if McClanahan does so, it’s difficult to see anyone surpassing him for this award.  

Justin Verlander, Houston, +260 

When Justin Verlander took the mound in April, it marked 624 days since his last start following Tommy John Surgery in October 2020. He missed all of last season rehabbing but has regained his All-Star form.  

Verlander leads the league in wins with 12 and is third in ERA at 1.89. Verlander was named to his ninth All-Star team, which leads all active pitchers.  

If the voters decide to romanticize Verlander’s comeback story, he could get an edge in Cy Young voting. His production has certainly been there this year to warrant him winning his third Cy Young award.  

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Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels, +700 

Considering Ohtani is currently the favorite to be named the American League MVP (-115), I doubt the writers will also give him the Cy Young award. Considering the MVP is emblematic of Ohtani’s talents. 

This has been the best of Ohtani’s three seasons as a pitcher. He has the lowest ERA of his career (2.38) and the lowest WHIP (0.989) and the highest number of strikeouts per nine innings (12.7). 

Still, he somewhat penalizes himself for being so good as a hitter, making it unlikely he receives both the MVP and Cy Young.  

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National League 

Sany Alcantara, Miami, -125 

This one could be wrapped up. Miami’s Sandy Alcantara leads the National League in ERA (1.76), innings pitched (138.1) and both the American and National League in Wins Above Replacement (5.3). 

He is top in other major advanced analytics, including runs above replacement (50.2), which is 8.3 more than second place and is first in wins above average (4.2).  

Similar to McClanahan, Alcantara is on a heater. He has pitched at least seven innings in his last 13 starts and has allowed just 14 runs during that span, including zero runs in five of those starts. His recent stretch of dominance has made him the clear favorite for this year’s National League Cy Young Award.  

Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee, +600 

The only other pitcher with less than 10/1 odds is Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes, who is fifth in the majors in ERA (2.14) and has totaled the fourth-most strikeouts (144). 

But since Burnes doesn’t exceed Alcantara in any of the key metrics, it’s difficult to see Burnes surpassing him unless Alcantara’s form slips over the final stretch of the regular season.  

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