MLB Futures: NL Cy Young Award Picks

Who will win the National League Cy Young Award in 2020? Ben Rolfe analyzes where the value lies in the market
Ben Rolfe
Thu, February 27, 10:18 AM EST

BEST BET: (1u) Aaron Nola @ +2200

  • 2019 saw Nola strikeout over 10 hitters per nine innings pitched for the first time in his career
  • His HR/FB nearly 5% higher in 2019 than at any other time in his career

The reason we’re backing Aaron Nola

It was a strange year in 2019 for Aaron Nola, who saw his ERA jump by 1.5 and his FIP rise by a whole run. The reason for that rise is largely due to an increase in his HR/FB rate to a career high 17%. That rise was driven by an increase in hard hit rate and his exit velocity in 2019 was higher than any other year of his career. However, a lot of his other numbers were very similar to his career average, with the only other exception being a higher walk rate than any other time in his career. The big positive though was a rise in K/9 to over 10 for the first time in his career. Despite pitching 10 less innings than in 2018, he topped his 2018 strikeout numbers in 2019. Last season is a concern, but these odds for a pitcher we know has the talent to put up superb numbers and following a season he struck out more hitters than ever before, simply feel too high.

(1u) Jacob deGrom @ +330

  • deGrom has won the last two NL Cy Young Awards despite winning just a total of 21 games across the two seasons

The reason we’re backing Jacob deGrom

How do you not back deGrom? In the last two years he has thrown 421 innings and struck out over 520 hitters while allowing less than 100 runs in total. Across the two seasons his ERA is just 2.05 and his WHIP is below one. To win a Cy Young while winning so few games is extremely impressive. To do it twice is simply amazing. In fact, no starter has ever won the NL Cy Young Award while winning less than 13 games, but deGrom has done it twice. A player that can make history like that is more than capable of winning a third straight award, something that has not been done since Randy Johnson won four in a row between 1999 and 2002.

(0.5u) Noah Syndergaard @ +2800

  • Syndergaard started more than 30 games for just the second time in his career in 2019 and has shown the talent required to win this award in the past

The reason we’re backing Noah Syndergaard

After Syndergaard proved he is capable of staying healthy for a full season he now just needs to put together his best performances with that health in 2020. Syndergaard has never registered a strikeout rate below 24% in his MLB career and last year was the first time since his rookie season that his FIP was above three. It he can pitch to his very best for 30 starts then he is more than capable of winning this award. Backing Syndergaard’s talent at reasonably long odds is a smart bet to make this offseason.

(0.5u) Chris Paddack @ +4000

  • Paddack struck out 153 in 140 2/3 innings with a 3.33 ERA in his rookie season

The reason we’re backing Chris Paddack

Paddack exploded onto the scene in 2019 with performances that suggest he has a bright future. He struck out 26.9% of the hitters he faced and if he can build on that in 2020 then he will rival the best in the league. Given he was hit reasonably hard in 2019 and still only gave up a 3.33 ERA, there is still plenty of room for improvement. These odds at +4000 are simply too high for a player who has already demonstrated he has the talent to match the best in the league after just one season.

(0.25u) Joey Lucchesi @ +10000

  • At home last season, Lucchesi had a 2.56 ERA and struck out 89 in 91 1/3 innings

The reason we’re backing Joey Lucchesi

His performances at home last season showed us that Lucchesi has the raw talent to be one of the best pitchers in the league. His strikeout rate dropped a little in 2019 but striking out over 10 hitters per nine innings in 2018 demonstrates he has the strikeout upside you need for this award. He needs to up his consistency, but we have seen pitchers make that leap in their third season in the majors before. At +10000 it is all about backing talent and Lucchesi has plenty of that. If nothing else, watching Lucchesi pitch is a lot of fun, and a small bet on him to win the NL Cy Young would be fantastic motivation to watch him each and every week.

Ben Rolfe
Ben is a football guru with years of experience covering the NFL. You can always count on Ben to pick a winner on Sunday!
Nov 2020

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