We are almost two months into the MLB season, and things are beginning to take shape. No longer can we write-off performances by saying that it's too early. Once you get past Memorial Day, the whole outlook on the season changes. With that being said, it is an extremely long season, and only about one-third of it is in the books.
The Cy Young is given to the best pitcher in each league, and while it may be too early to say who will win the award, we have a pretty good idea of which pitchers will be in the picture come September. Let's take a look at the favorites and contenders to win the award in each league, according to the betting odds.
Justin Verlander the favorite in AL
Entering this season at the age of 39, Justin Verlander had pitched just six innings since 2019. He missed almost all of the 2020 season, then decided to have Tommy John surgery which kept him out for 2021. Verlander is 6-2, posting a 2.23 ERA over 64.2 innings in ten starts. He's gone at least six innings in eight of those ten starts. Currently, Verlander is the +425 favorite to win the AL Cy Young.
We know about Verlander's track record, and the way in which he has returned from missing two seasons is truly impressive at his age. It's worth noting that Verlander's strikeout numbers are down, as he's averaging just 8.5 strikeouts-per-9 innings, compared to the 12.2 SO/9 he averaged in his two full seasons with Houston in 2018 and 2019.
The concerns with Verlander's Cy Young candidacy are obvious. He's an older pitcher who hasn't pitched in two years. His innings will certainly be heavily monitored down the stretch, especially since it looks like Houston might run away with the AL West. Will he continue to be as effective as the innings pile up?
The contenders in the AL
These five pitchers are viewed as Verlander's biggest competition according to the betting odds:
Shane McClanahan: Shane McClanahan had a solid rookie season, but he's taken a huge leap to begin his sophomore campaign. The young Rays' left-hander has pitched to a 2.10 ERA and his 89 strikeouts lead baseball. McClanahan is currently +600 to win the Cy Young.
Gerrit Cole: After beginning the season by posting a 6.35 ERA and going just 11.1 innings in his first three starts, the Yankees ace has rebounded tremendously. Since then, Cole has pitched 53.1 innings and surrendered just 12 runs. He's pitched into the seventh inning or longer in six of his last eight starts. Cole is also +600 to win the AL Cy Young.
Nestor Cortes: "Nasty Nestor" has been one of the best stories in baseball, as the former 36th round pick has gone from the scrap heap to arguably the best pitcher in the league. Cortes' 1.50 ERA leads baseball, and he's gone at least seven innings in four of his last five starts. He's +700 to win the award.
Kevin Gausman: In his first year with Toronto, Gausman has not disappointed. He has the best FIP in the league through 11 starts. He got roughed up a little in his last start, but still has a solid 2.78 ERA on the season. Gausman is +800 to win the Cy Young.
Alek Manoah: Manoah completes the second set of teammates on this list, as the Blue Jays' starter is having a phenomenal start to his sophomore campaign. Manoah has gone at least six innings in nine of ten starts and has a robust 1.98 ERA. Manoah is +900 to win the award.
Others worth a mention
Martin Perez is second in the AL in both innings pitched and ERA, but oddsmakers aren't buying it. After not even making Boston's postseason roster in 2021, the veteran left-hander is dominating with the Texas Rangers, but he's still 50-to-1 to win the Cy Young. Last year's winner, Robbie Ray, has even worse odds at 66-to-1.
If you're looking for a long shot, two pitchers off to tremendous starts stand out. Jameson Taillon has a 2.30 ERA for the Yankees, and his 66-to-1 odds seem a little long. Another name to keep an eye out for is Tarik Skubal, who has really put it together for the Tigers this season. Skubal is 20-to-1 to win the Cy Young.
Corbin Burnes the favorite to repeat in the NL
Corbin Burnes won the NL Cy Young in 2021, and according to the betting odds, he's the favorite to repeat the feat in 2022. Burnes is currently +400 to win the NL Cy Young.
Burnes' numbers in 2022 mirror his numbers from last year in most categories. He's got a 2.50 ERA, compared to the 2.43 mark he had last year. He's walking even less batters this year, and still striking batters out at a high rate, though not nearly as high as last year.
The one concern for Burnes so far this season has been the home run ball. He's given up nine long balls already this season, which is two more than he gave up all of last year. His record is just 3-3, but thankfully, win-loss record has become rather obsolete in the Cy Young debate.
The contenders in the NL
These four pitchers are viewed as the biggest threat to Burnes going back-to-back according to BetMGM:
Joe Musgrove: Joe Musgrove currently has the best ERA in the National League, posting a 1.64 mark through ten starts. He's striking out just under a batter per inning while dramatically improving both his walk and home-run rate. Musgrove started off hot last season, can he keep it up for a full season this time around? Musgrove is +600 to win the NL Cy Young.
Sandy Alcantara: Sandy Alcantara currently leads baseball in innings pitched, and ranks 2nd in the NL with his 1.81 ERA. Alcantara has gone at least seven innings in five straight starts, and has been masterful while providing length. Alcantara is also +600 to win the award.
Carlos Rodon: Rodon was bought in to replace Gausman in San Francisco, and the results have been pretty good. Rodon leads the NL with an 11.5 strikeouts-per-9 mark. He struggles with walks, but he keeps the ball in the ball park. His 3.44 ERA isn't as good as most on this list, but he's always had the tools. Rodon is 10-to-1 to win the Cy Young.
Pablo Lopez: Alcantara isn't the only Marlins pitcher off to a tremendous start, as Pablo Lopez has a 2.18 ERA through 11 starts. Lopez has gone seven innings five times this year, and has gone at least six innings in seven of his last nine starts. Lopez is 10-to-1 to win the award.
Others worth a mention
There's not much of a drop off behind Lopez, as Walker Buehler, Zack Wheeler, Max Fried and Zac Gallen are all between 14-to-1 and 18-to-1 to win the award.
Josh Hader is just 25-to-1 to win the Cy Young, as he looks to become the first reliever since Eric Gagne in 2003 to win the award. Gagne is the only reliever to win the award since 1992.
Jacob deGrom opened the season as the favorite to win the NL Cy Young, but he's yet to appear in a game this year. deGrom is currently 66-to-1 to win the award, but he's not expected back for about another month. Max Scherzer took over as the preseason favorite once deGrom went down, but he too is expected to be out another month. Scherzer is 40-to-1 to win the Cy Young.
MacKenzie Gore might not win the Cy Young, but the Padres rookie has a sparkling 1.50 ERA through eight starts this season. He's become the favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award at +175.
If you're looking for a lottery ticket, one name worth a prayer would be Adam Wainwright. Wainwright is now 40 and has never won a Cy Young, finishing second in voting twice and also finishing third twice. He finished 7th in voting in 2021, but his 2022 start has been even better statistically than last year. The Cardinals' starter is averaging six innings per start and has a 2.73 ERA. He's 100-to-1 to win the NL Cy Young.