MLB Picks, Odds: Sleepers for Cy Young, Plus Who’s Being Overvalued?

MLB Picks, Odds: Sleepers for Cy Young, Plus Who’s Being Overvalued?

MLB Picks, Odds: Sleepers for Cy Young, Plus Who’s Being Overvalued?

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USATSIA

The 2022 MLB season is approaching half. We’re not there yet, but it’s coming. As such, many starting pitchers have made about 12-14 starts. When it comes to gamblers trying to seize a Cy Young future, we’ve got plenty of ground here to know who the top contenders are, while knowing there’s plenty of time for hot and cold streaks to reshape the field.

As we did with every MVP award last week, our job through Caesars Sportsbook is to sift through the odds and discover who might be overvalued along with some undervalued picks that could soar to victory.

What does it look like now? Let’s see.

National League

The Marlins have never had a Cy Young winner. (For a trivia question, the only three teams that have never won a Cy are the Marlins, Rangers, and Rockies.) I’m mentioning the Marlins here because Sandy Alcantara is the leader in the clubhouse. He leads the majors in innings with 99 1/3 and still has a sparkling ERA of 1.72. He also has the lowest hit and home run percentages in the league. To do all this with the most innings, he says he should now be the unanimous winner. He is the favorite with +300. Joe Musgrove (the leader in ERA at 1.59) is next at +400. Last year’s winner Corbin Burnes is +550. Phillies ace Zack Wheeler is next at +900 and his teammate Aaron Nola is at +1400. Carlos Rodón and Max Fried are also +1400.

Overrated

  • Rodon just has way too much injury history to believe he can last long enough to win. He finished fifth in the AL voting last season with just 132 2/3 innings and my guess is that this year’s finish is the ceiling on the NL side. He will be great as long as he still takes the ball, but I just can’t rely on him getting it often enough. I don’t think I have anyone else here. The other names mentioned above are reasonably priced and I’m going to ride Alcantara as my personal choice.

sleepers

  • What did you think about Tyler Anderson at +5000? It would be funny since the Dodgers have the most Cy Youngs (12) as a team in MLB history and to have a winner on this team that wasn’t Clayton Kershaw or Walker Buehler (or even Julio Urías) would a big upset. Anderson is 8-0 with a 2.82 ERA and 0.94 Whip in 67 innings. He had a terrible start where bullpen problems at the time meant he couldn’t get hooked early on and he just ended up wearing it. In six starts since then, he has been almost unbeatable. While we’re here, Tony Gonsolin is +2000 and is also an interesting choice.
  • Max Scherzer is +6000. Due to his injury, he has only started eight games, but he is on his way back and could return next week. There’s still time for him to make maybe 17 the rest of the way. In 25 starts he was able to work about 160 turns. Would that be enough? Probably not, but we’ve seen what Mad Max can do and if the others above fall apart, he would have a chance from the outside. The odds are good.
  • Yu Darvish is also +6000. He’s not hurt and he’s been good. He just hasn’t been great. In 2020, he made 12 starts and posted a 2.01 ERA and 0.96 with 93 strikeouts in 76 innings. If he ran like that, he would jump right into the favorites.

American League

The favorites at the moment are Nestor Cortes (+400), Shane McClanahan (+400) and Justin Verlander (+400) with Alek Manoah (+700) and Gerrit Cole (+1000) close. If a vote were taken now, the winner would come from the three favorites, with Martín Pérez (+4000), Logan Gilbert (+1700) and Jameson Taillon (+4000) as strong candidates.

overrated

  • cortes jumps for me here now. It’s not that I don’t buy it as a frontline starter. He looked like one to 12 starts and he was a quality pitcher last season. However, I am concerned about the workload. He threw just 108 innings last season after barely any play in 2020. His highest load per season came in 2018 with 119 2/3 innings. He is at 69 2/3 this year. That’s a long way behind the leaders. How far will the Yankees extend it? 145 turns? The lowest workload ever for a starting pitcher Cy Young winner in a full season came in 2021, when Burnes threw 167. Even if Cortes holds up the sub-2.00 ERA, I just can’t see him scoring enough innings.
  • verlander is 39 and comes from Tommy John surgery. He hasn’t pitched a full season since 2019. He has a 4.11 ERA in his last five starts and allowed seven unearned runs (21 runs in total in 30 2/3 innings) in that stretch.
  • I think we might as well hit every favorite. McClanahan threw only 123 1/3 innings last season. He is already over 80 this year. There are similar concerns here as Cortes.

sleepers

  • Cole is a good price now, actually. Where there are concerns about workload and/or durability the rest of the way for the three favorites I mentioned in the overrated column, there aren’t many with Cole. He will likely make the top 200 innings and while doing so, he is able to lead the league in strikeouts and work his way to the top of the ERA and WHIP standings. His gem of a performance Monday night against the Rays — taking a no-hitter to 8th — dropped his ERA to 3.14 and WHIP to 1.02. And after striking out 12, he has 103, good enough for second place in the AL. He is my choice.
  • Shane Bieber (+2000) has won it before and has a 2.18 ERA in his last seven starts. His strikeout rate is rising and so is his team, as the Guardians have won 15 of their last 19.
  • Dylan Cease (+3000) has the highest strikeout count in the league and is third in strikeouts behind McClanahan and Cole. Walks are an issue and he’s only pitched 68 innings so far, but he shouldn’t be restricted there later in the season as he went to 165 2/3 last season.
  • Framber Valdez (+5000) is within range of the league leader in innings and he threw to a 2.78 ERA (136 ERA+). He has been very good and will probably continue to be. I’d take Verlander over him if there weren’t any chances, but the number is nice for a raffle ticket with Valdez.
  • Paul Blackburn (+10000) throws for a horrible A’s team, but he stands 6-2. The A’s are 9-4 if he starts and 14-41 if he doesn’t. He leads the league in baseball-reference.com’s version of WAR and falls within the reach of ERA and WHIP. He certainly can’t keep this up and last year he threw only 127 innings between Triple-A and the majors, but we’re in the lottery. You never know and it would make sense to hit something like $5 on this one.