by Stuart Kirsch
AL Cy Young Odds: Is It Gerrit Cole’s Turn in the Cy Young Rotation?
The big prize of the offseason was the Yankees acquisition of starter Gerrit Cole. Cole lost the Cy Young battle by a slim margin last season to his Astros teammate Justin Verlander. Cole was ahead in the predictions for much of the late season and finished the year at 20-5 with 326 strikeouts, a 2.50 ERA, and WHIP of 0.895. Despite not losing a decision since the end of May and finishing the season with nine straight games of double-digit strikeouts, Cole could not overcome Verlander’s late season flourish to take home the hardware, particularly an early September no-hitter against the Blue Jays.
Verlander posted a 21-6 record with an ERA of 2.58 and 300 strikeouts. Three factors are at work in Cole being the odds-on favorite for the 2020 Cy. First, Cole sparkled in the 2019 postseason, going 4-1 with only one bad outing; Verlander went 1-4 and gave up 17 postseason earned runs. Age has to catch up with Verlander at some point, who, at 37, is eight years older than Cole. And while not facing a stadium-full backlash every night on the road, the fallout from the sign-stealing saga is likely to have a meaningful negative effect on the Astros. For what it’s worth, no American League pitcher has won back-to-back Cy Youngs since Pedro Martinez in 1999-2000.
Donning his new pinstripes, Cole has a power-packed lineup behind him as the Yankees are the betting favorites in the American League. Cole will likely get the first publicity of the season, opening against the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals. The odds of a Gerrit Cole 2020 AL Cy Young Award are +280. Verlander is the next favorite at +650.
AL Cy Young Odds: Cleveland Rocks!
Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger, along with the since-departed Trevor Bauer, were pitching staff leaders for a Cleveland ball club that won 93 games in 2019 and fought for a wild card spot until the last week of the season. With Corey Kluber also gone, Bieber has officially been elevated to ace of the staff. Bieber went 15-8 last season with a 3.28 ERA and 259 strikeouts, finishing fourth in the CY Young balloting.
Bieber’s 2020 Cy Young odds are +700. Clevinger finished 13-4 with a 2.71 ERA in only 21 starts, missing two months in the early season with a back strain. Clevinger’s 2020 Cy Young odds are +900.
Rays Want to Shine
Tyler Glasnow of the Tampa Bay Rays seems poised for a breakout year. He was 6-1 in an injury-shortened 2019, making just 12 starts, including four “opener” appearances in September returning from the IL. Glasnow is +1200 to win the 2020 Cy Young. Rotation mate Blake Snell, winner of the 2018 AL Cy Young checks in at +1000, having last year dropped far off the impact of his Cy season.
Wild Card winners in 2019, the Rays were saved by veteran Charlie Morton, who posted a 16-6 season and was awarded his second consecutive All-Star selection, after a very quiet decade to open his career. Morton’s odds for the 2020 AL Cy Young are +1500.
AL Cy Young… Youngsters Looking to Break Out
Jose Berrios was 14-8 on the AL Central champs, Minnesota Twins. Lucas Giolito went 14-9, leading the staff of a young Chicago White Sox team. Both pitchers have odds of +1500. Frankie Montas was an epiphany for the Oakland A’s at 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 16 games before being tagged with an 80-game suspension for a banned substance. His odds are +2100.
Could Cy Come Out of the Pen? Long Shot AL Cy Young Odds
In a shortened season, a starting pitcher will likely have fewer than 15 starts, and with a truncated spring training and an odd summer camp, pitchers may be further behind in their preparation. One or two bad starts could spell doom for a starter’s chance at a Cy Young award. While only four relievers have ever won an AL Cy (Sparkly Lyle, Rollie Fingers, Willie Hernandez, Dennis Eckersley) here’s a call to the bullpen.
Take a peek at any early season odds you can get on Liam Hendriks (A’s), Nick Anderson (Rays), Aroldis Chapman (Yankees), Taylor Rodgers (Twins), Aaron Bummer (White Sox), or any closer that starts racking up some saves.