A theme has emerged among National League pitchers this spring that is not unlike what’s been seen inside the Democratic Party’s contentious primary.
Will the establishment again win out? Or could a newcomer, ready to rewrite recent history, win the competition?
It is no surprise, then, that this race also involves D.C., the East Coast and Midwesterners ready to make their mark.
Mets’ deGrom leading the pack
Sportsbooks have placed New York Mets righthander Jacob deGrom at the top of the heap.
The odds – +280 on FanDuel and +300 on DraftKings – show that oddsmakers believe the lanky, versatile hurler is poised for a three-peat after winning the award in 2018 and 2019 despite a combined record of 21-17 for the underachieving Metropolitans.
BetMGM, meanwhile, has the ace at +280. 888sport matches DK at +300.
deGrom, maybe the most well-rewarded benefactor of the analytics revolution, could become only the third pitcher in MLB history to win three consecutive Cy Young Awards. The only other two pitchers to do it, Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, each won four straight, from 1992-1995 and 1999-2002, respectively.
No one should balk at anyone laying money on deGrom, who comes off three consecutive seasons of over 200 IP and lives as one of the few pitchers in modern-day baseball that averages under one home-run per nine innings pitched.
There are, however, strong options that present better value.
Who could challenge the favorite?
Unsurprisingly, World Series hero and the two eye-color wonder Max Scherzer is running second in most sportsbooks to win the NL Cy Young Award.
His odds range from +375 (DK and 888) to +400 (FanDuel) and +450 (BetMGM).
A three-time Cy Young winner who finished third in the 2019 race, the 35-year-old Scherzer will inevitably likely see his production decline in coming years. But it hasn’t started yet.
Despite throwing only 172 innings in 2019, Scherzer finished with a 2.92 ERA and struck out 243 batters. He is also just one year removed from a six-year stretch from 2013-2018 that each year included more than 200 innings pitched; he also led the league in WHIP (walks/hits per inning pitched) from 2016-2018.
Other vets, like teammate Stephen Stasburg and legendary lefty Clayton Kershaw, also reside in the top group of favorites in most sportsbooks.
Young aces look to make stardom jump
A third big-market righty that’s become a favorite for bettors is Dodgers ace Walker Buehler.
While Buehler enters the 2020 campaign without the resume of either deGrom or Scherzer, he enjoys the benefit of a stacked Dodgers team expected to win the National League and an offense that should present the 25-year-old with heaps of low-stress innings.
Buehler sits at +800 on FanDuel, +900 on DK and 888, and +1000 on BetMGM.
In the same ballpark is another young right-hander, St. Louis Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty, who finished 2019 with a masterful second-half that encompassed a 0.91 ERA. It was the second-lowest second-half ERA in nearly nine decades, according to MLB.com.
Flaherty bettors can gets odds of +1000 (DK, FanDuel, 888), and +1100 BetMGM.
In Cincy, pitchers seek hardware
One of the NL teams expected to make a major jump in the standings this year is the Cincinnati Reds, which had one of the most active winters of anyone in the MLB.
Alongside its additions, the team is hoping for increased excellence from Luis Castillo, who with his change-up possesses one of the best pitches in the NL. It is also looking for a return to form for Trevor Bauer, a recent AL Cy Young front-runner.
Castillo’s odds in sportsbooks hover around +2000, while Bauer ranges from +1800 (FanDuel) to +3000 (BetAmerica).
The real darkhorse that should being grabbing attention, however, is Sonny Gray.
Gray, coming off a 2018 that included national embarrassment on the mound in the Bronx, enjoyed a bounceback campaign last year that included a 2.87 ERA and a near career-best 1.08 WHIP.
Gray has +3500 odds on FanDuel and +4000 on DK, 888, and BetMGM.