Spring Training kicking off means it is time to visit the American League Cy Young odds and see if any value is emerging in late February. Here we will cover AL Cy Young odds to identify the best plays ahead of the 2023 MLB season, picks like Gerrit Cole as he looks to finally break through.
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2023 American League Cy Young Odds: Finally Cole’s Time?
Jacob deGrom jumping over to the AL has instantly made him the Cy Young favorite, but there is a lot of baggage there, not the least of which is his most recent injury with his left side. The Rangers taking it easy with him seems precautionary and not likely to lead to missed time, but it is the latest in a series of troubling health issues. DeGrom made only 26 starts combined in 2021 and 2022, going for only 156.1 innings. He was dominant in that time, so the stuff is clearly there, but deGrom is now four years removed from his back-to-back Cy Youngs with the Mets and has not pitched a full season since. As such, it is probably best to fade him for now.
Alek Manoah, Dylan Cease and Shane McClanahan will all be between 25 and 27 this year and are coming off breakout campaigns. Cease and Manoah finished second and third in Cy Young voting, and McClanahan was a hair behind at No. 6. Plus, all three pitch for teams projected to compete for the postseason that are also not the favorites to win their respective divisions. There is value with them in the lower high-end range, with Cease getting the slight edge as the guy with the best strikeout stuff.
Carlos Rodon and Gerrit Cole are both clearly in play, but as teammates they may split votes if they both have a great season. That said, it has not always mattered — Corbin Burnes won two years ago with Brandon Woodruff having a near equal season, and Justin Verlander fought off teammate Framber Valdez to take home Cy Young last year. Plus, Cole has shockingly still never won despite finishing top 5 in four of the last five years and twice being runner-up in that span. And last year he dropped all the way to ninth in the voting despite leading MLB in strikeouts. His ERA has spiked a bit the last couple seasons, but he could have some sentiment as a “finally” winner in a large market.
Valdez has some value at +1500, but Cristian Javier seems like a great longshot at +2000. The Astros do not really have a clearly defined ace since Verlander is now with the Mets. Valdez had the best 2022, but he pitches to contact a bit more than Javier and Lance McCullers do. Javier’s strikeouts per nine rival the best marks in baseball — he just needs to get the inning totals to make the leaderboards. Javier also planted his flag as a clutch pitcher by having dominant postseason performances last season. Look for him to emerge as the No. 1 starter for the World Series favorite, and that alone puts him on the map in this race.
Many of these other names are stay-aways who are just getting some love in the odds due to performances of semi-distant past. Robbie Ray was not a particularly reliable starter last year, nor was Lucas Giolito. And then there is Shohei Ohtani, who is a huge name and a great pitcher, but it is tough to imagine him matching the innings counts of the other top contenders.