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MLB NL Cy Young Odds: Corbin Burnes and Max Scherzer Lead a Crowded Field To Start The Season

Ryan Kirksey breaks down the candidates' odds for the MLB National League Cy Young Award. Corbin Burnes and Max Scherzer are currently in the lead for the hardware.
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NL Cy Young Odds: Corbin Burnes and Max Scherzer Lead a Crowded Field To Start The Season

Baseball season is finally underway, which means it's time to look into who has the best odds for the MLB NL Cy Young Awards.

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Brandon Woodruff Cy Young Odds: (+1300) (Bet $100 to Win $1300)

Seemingly overshadowed by his own teammate who won the Cy Young in 2021, Woodruff's stellar year deserves much praise. Bad luck brought Woodruff only nine wins last season, but the 2.56 ERA, 10.6 K/9, and 0.9 HR/9 were all numbers that look repeatable based on his historical track record.

Woodruff seemingly has a longer leash than Burnes and could approach 190-200 innings this year. Projection systems put him around 180-185 and they all see him making around 31 starts, assuming good health. Should Woodruff's odds be 62.5% longer than Burnes to start the year? I, for one, do not think so. The track record, team context, and projections all line up to say this is a valuable selection at +1300.

Zach Wheeler Cy Young Odds: (+1200) (Bet $100 to Win $1200)

Some casual baseball fans may not know much about Zach Wheeler, but after last year's campaign, he should definitely be a household name. Wheeler led all of baseball with 213 innings pitched and 247 strikeouts in his age 31 season in 2021. He finished second in Cy Young Voting and there are plenty of people who feel he was robbed of that award because of the almost 50 extra innings he pitched than Corbin Burnes.

Regardless, Wheeler took the league by storm thanks to a first-pitch strike percentage that jumped up 10% from 2020 and a two percent bump in swinging-strike rate overall. That caused batters' contact rate to plummet to just 65.8% last season. Wheeler scared the baseball world early in March when he complained of shoulder soreness after his throwing began, but all signs point to him lacing 'em up in the Phillies' fifth game of the season on April 12th.

Walker Buehler Cy Young Odds: (+950) (Bet $100 to Win $950)

The runaway favorite to win the World Series in 2022 (+500), the Dodgers are projected to win around 95 games and it will surprise absolutely no one if they cross 100 again. Buehler was the clear ace for this squad last season, passing 200 innings for the first time while striking out a batter per inning to go along with a shiny 2.47 ERA. As he enters his prime at age 27, the question then becomes can he repeat that brilliance or give back some of his gains from 2021.

Buehler was very lucky in terms of home runs in 2021, especially considering he plays his home games in the park with the third-highest home run park factor in the last three years. His 35.5% flyball rate was below the league average of 36.5%, but his HR/9 (0.82, league average was 1.26) and HR/FB rate (10.1%, league average was 13.6%) were exceptionally ahead of the pack. He will likely be on the other side of that luck this year, but as the best pitcher on the major's best team, he will get serious Cy Young consideration.

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Max Scherzer Cy Young Odds: (+800) (Bet $100 to Win $800)

The fact that Scherzer is already dealing with a hamstring issue before his first of the season is thrown is certainly concerning. With the New York Mets already facing another Jacob DeGrom shutdown, they can hardly afford for their new investment to go down with an injury as well. All signs point to Scherzer pitching this weekend, but age and injuries are certainly not working in his favor for Cy Young candidacy.

What is working in his favor is the move to Citi Field, which ranks 20th in offensive park factor, according to Baseball Savant. Both the Nationals' and Dodgers' parks (his two most recent teams) are in the top half for the offensive park factor, so a more favorable environment should help when he isn't striking guys out. Even as a 36-year-old last season, Scherzer struck out 236 batters in 179 innings. He also led the league with a 0.86 WHIP. It's never a smart bet to wager against Scherzer. All he needs is good health and he will be near the top of this list all year.

Corbin Burnes Cy Young Odds: (+800) (Bet $100 to Win $800)

The 2021 Cy Young Award winner is queued up to repeat in 2022 according to oddsmakers, but he will have to hold off a whole host of viable candidates to do so. In 2021, Burnes rode a league-leading 2.43 ERA, 12.6 K/9, and 0.4 HR/9 to the win but was also aided by some good fortune when Jacob DeGrom went down with an injury.

Burnes will need some good fortune and good health again this year to have a chance to repeat. Most projection systems see Burnes regressing back to being merely great instead of otherworldly in 2022. Milwaukee has strong postseason aspirations, so I don't expect him to touch the innings totals of other pitchers like Scherzer, Wheeler, and Buehler. Primarily for that reason, I'm looking to bet on some longer odds to start the year.

Longshot: Aaron Nola (+2500) (Bet $100 to Win $2500)

You can currently find a range of odds for Nola to take home the award that spans from +1050 to +2500. If you can grab +2500 anywhere before the Philadelphia fireballer takes the mound this year, I would recommend doing it. Nola was the poster boy for bad luck last year when his ERA was a mediocre 4.63 but his xERA and FIP were both 3.37. He had rates of over 11 K/9 and a career-low 1.94 BB/9 last year. He also gave up his fewest homers per nine innings since 2018. If the projected-to-be-bad Philadelphia defense can give some at least reasonable support, Nola should be able to vault himself into Cy Young contention.

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Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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