It should also have MLB betting fans trying to gauge which players lead the league in certain statistics and could be in the running for prestigious awards.
Things can get a little complicated with baseball, as no single stat seals the deal, and there is still a lot of baseball to be played over the next couple of months. But the leaders in the award races have shown themselves — especially when you look at the 2019 Cy Young odds.
Justin Verlander leads the charge as the +150 favorite in the AL, while Max Scherzer feels like the runaway favorite (-200) in the NL.
Should you go hard at these favorites, or are there value bets worth buying into?
Let’s find out by breaking down the best 2019 Cy Young sleepers in both leagues.
AL Cy Young Sleepers to Target
Verlander is the tentative favorite to win the 2019 AL Cy Young, but his odds tell you he’s yet to actually lock it up. In fact, Gerrit Cole, his own teammate, leads the AL in strikeouts and has allowed far fewer home runs.
There is value to be had in the race for the AL Cy Young, largely because the top favorite doesn’t even feel like a sure thing. Cole is his top challenger by far, but ignoring Lance Lynn (+300) during a career revival season would be foolish.
You can target even more upside, though, thanks to SportsBetting.ag and other baseball betting sites. Here are the AL Cy Young sleepers I personally am keeping tabs on.
Charlie Morton – Tampa Bay Rays+400
Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins+1600
Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox+1600
Mike Minor (+500) is also interesting due to playing in a hitter’s park and escaping with a blistering 2.54 ERA, but Morton is the better option in that price range, and I’d rather aim high elsewhere.
Let’s kick this off with Morton, who has been fantastic all year long while keeping the Rays in contention for the AL East crown and the MLB playoffs. Morton already proved himself in Houston over the past two seasons, but he’s established a career-low (and league-leading) 2.32 ERA and has racked up an impressive 142 whiffs.
Morton is balling out and has allowed just nine homers all year (at the time of this writing), displaying his ability to dominate at every level this season.
When you look at his production and his team success, it’s quite arguable he’s the best overall value in this Cy Young race.
Of course, you can really go after some big earnings with guys like Odorizzi and Giolito.
Both of these arms are enjoying breakout campaigns, with Giolito’s perhaps being more impressive as a member of a mediocre White Sox team. Giolito pitches in a tough ballpark and doesn’t always get the run support he deserves, yet he’s leading the AL in wins (11) in a year where his buried talent has finally allowed him to blow up.
It’s tough to nominate a guy on a team that isn’t going to make the playoffs, but just look at Jacob deGrom last year. The reality is Giolito has morphed into an elite hurler right before our very eyes, and he’s got the numbers to back him up.
Giolito ranks first in wins, sixth in ERA, second in Batting Average Against, and tenth in strikeouts, and he’s limited the long ball (9 homers allowed). At his current price, he’s absolutely worth a flier.
The same can be said of Odorizzi, but to a lesser extent.
He’s pitching for a very good Twins team that is crushing the ball offensively, but it’s hard to be over the moon for his 10 wins when the whiffs, ERA, and BAA just aren’t comparable to the other Cy Young candidates.
Jake Odorizzi is still managing games, limiting runs and the long ball, and doing enough to win games. His season in a vacuum is fantastic. He’s just also benefiting from Minnesota wrecking offensively, and his stats aren’t superior to his competition.
There is a faint argument for him — especially at these fun +1600 Cy Young odds — but he won’t quite make the cut for me.
NL Cy Young Sleepers Worth Betting On
Things are less competitive in the NL, where it’s Mad Max and then everyone else. Is it really that cut and dry, though?
Scherzer can’t really help that his Washington Nationals have struggled this year. They’ve turned it on over the past few weeks, however, and his MLB-leading 181 strikeouts certainly have had something to do with it.
I don’t really need to argue hard for Scherzer, and everyone knows that. He has the dominance and all of the numbers. If the Nats are seriously going to make a playoff push, he’s going to be awfully tough to bet against.
The problem is at -200, you’re not getting much upside with Mad Max. That has me lending cursory glances to some interesting NL Cy Young sleepers.
Let me first say that LA’s Hyun-Jin Ryu is having a brilliant season and is absolutely Max’s top threat. His league-leading 1.73 ERA is quite simply absurd, and he’s done a great job limiting the deep ball (10 homers) while posting comparable numbers to the top options.
The main issue for me when it comes to Ryu is that he’s on the best team in baseball, he doesn’t generate the whiffs the other elite pitchers do, and he benefits from a pitcher-friendly park.
If we’re going purely on ERA, then sure, Ryu is a killer betting value and a very real threat. I just think there are other sleepers we want to spend our time on.
Here’s the three that stand out the most.
Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds+1000
Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks+2200
Mike Soroka – Atlanta Braves+3300
I’m not completely ignoring some other worthwhile veterans like Jacob deGrom (+3300) or Clayton Kershaw (+2800). They clearly are huge stars and offer ridiculous value. They simply aren’t having the seasons needed to really challenge for a Cy Young award.
It’s unlikely anyone actually takes down Scherzer at this point, but let’s at least consider Castillo, who is enjoying a breakout campaign with the Reds. The youngster is averaging a strikingly low 2.29 ERA and spends half of his time at the deadly Great American Ballpark, while he also ranks tops in BAA on the year.
Despite playing for a bad Reds team, Castillo sports a strong 8-3 record, ranks ninth in strikeouts, and has only allowed nine homers on the year. If the Reds were a bit better and Castillo could inch closer to Scherzer’s strikeout number, I’m not entirely sure why he wouldn’t have a shot at the upset.
The same could be said for Greinke. I know he’s a big name, and his stardom probably trumps his actual production, but he’s mostly been fantastic for Arizona this year.
The D’Backs were expected to take a big step back after losing some elite bats, but they’re still in the thick of the playoff race. Greinke’s sparkling 2.73 ERA is a big reason why, while he also has a sick 0.92 WHIP, 10 wins, and has given up just 12 long balls.
Greinke could stand to add more whiffs and limit his homers slightly better, but he’s had quite the underrated year. If Arizona kicks things into high gear and he ups his strikeouts a bit, I don’t see why he can’t challenge Mad Max.
Lastly, let’s not ignore the talented Braves rookie, Mike Soroka.
This kid can’t touch the top threats in the strikeout department just yet, but he has a blistering 9-1 record to go with a 2.42 ERA as a starter. Soroka is playing a pretty big hand in Atlanta’s dominance atop the NL East, and he’s doing this in just his second season in the majors.
Soroka surely needs more whiffs and continued dominance to have a real shot, but he’s a fun sleeper to cheer for based on his Cy Young odds.
Who Will Win the AL and NL Cy Young?
Sometimes I don’t understand the way Vegas prices things. Do they just attach odds to players they think will win something, or do they assign odds strictly based on how they feel the public will react and bet?
Honestly, they’re geniuses, so it’s surely a little bit of both.
I think these Cy Young races could be argued as complex, but I’ll simplify it for everyone; Max Scherzer is winning in the NL. The only true challenger is Ryu, and the stats just aren’t there outside of his ERA.
Mad Max won’t ever come with a better price tag than -200, so the time to strike is now when it comes to him winning the NL Cy Young.
The AL is much more difficult to figure out, in my opinion, but my pick is Charlie Morton. Gerrit Cole has more strikeouts, and Justin Verlander has an insane WHIP, but both of these guys have had home run issues, have higher than desired ERAs, and play on a stacked Astros team.
Even when these guys have struggled, they’ve been bailed out by their offense.
Charlie Morton can’t always say that, yet he’s in the hunt for the league-lead in wins, has the best ERA in the AL, is right there with these guys when it comes to strikeouts, and has done a far better job at limiting the long ball.
Morton doesn’t really have a glaring weakness this season, either, while his team success is comparable to anyone else — if not a little more impressive. He’s not the trendy pick, and he’s not exactly safe, but if he can keep this up, I believe he’s the right pick.
If you’re not completely sold on Morton, one good strategy could be to bet hard on Mad Max and then drop a small wager in favor of Morton. Check out our recommended MLB betting sites to find the best places for your wagers.