National League Cy Young odds, futures, picks: Spencer Strider a heavy favorite, but don’t count out long shots

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to start reporting to Major League Baseball spring training camps as early as Friday, Feb. 9 (L.A. Dodgers) here’s a look at preseason betting odds for 2024 National League Cy Young candidates posted at top-rated online sportsbooks.

Atlanta’s Spencer Strider, the only 20-game winner in the majors last year, is the favorite to win the award followed on the boards by Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler and San Francisco’s Logan Webb.

Noticeably absent on the charts is last year’s NL winner, lefty Blake Snell (14-9, an MLB-best 2.25 ERA). He played for San Diego in 2023 but is a free agent and not only hasn’t settled on which team to join but also which league.

Even excluding Snell’s standout performance last year, five of the the past seven winners of the NL award in a full season (Corbin Burnes 2021, Jake deGrom (2018-19) and Max Scherzer (2016-17) are now employed by American League teams, so it’s likely to be a wide-open charge to win the NL honor.

National League Cy Young Award odds 2024

Here are the latest futures odds for the 2024 National League Cy Young Award winner at the best U.S. online sportsbooks:

 

More: MLB Betting Sites & AppsLatest MLB Betting Lines & Odds | What are futures odds?

Don’t ignore NL Cy Young long shots

The past two seasons featured winners whose preseason odds were +5000 — Snell and in 2022 Miami’s Sandy Alcantara, who was a unanimous winner of the honor. And speaking of long odds, in late May Snell’s odds zoomed to +20000 in the wake of his 1-6, 5.40 ERA start to the season.

And also in 2022, Arizona’s Zac Gallen had consensus odds of +15000 in late summer before going on a six-start stretch in which he worked 41 innings without allowing a run and yielded only 16 hits. His odds plummeted to roughly +250 for the closing stretch and he wound up finishing fifth in the voting.

Thus, it’s almost never too late to jump on a long shot capable of making a big climb up the oddsboards.

On another note, top candidates for the award don’t have to be on a division-winning team to draw lots of attention. Snell was on a Padres team that finished 82-80 and failed to make the playoffs. A year earlier Alcantara’s Marlins finished 69-93. His record, though, was 14-9 with the league’s second-best ERA at 2.28.

Top five odds for NL Cy Young Award 2024

Spencer Strider (2023: 20-7, 3.86 ERA), RHP, Atlanta : Strider benefited greatly being supported by the highest scoring team in the league over the past 15 years — an average of 6.22 runs of support in his 32 starts.

He had by far the best strikeouts per nine innings number (13.9), but he’ll have to improve on that ERA since no pitcher in either league in the history of the Cy Young, dating to 1956, ever won with an ERA of higher than 3.66.

In 12 of the past 13 seasons, the NL Cy Young winner had the best or second-best ERA in the league.

Zack Wheeler (2023: 13-6, 3.61), RHP, Philadelphia : He’s been an innings eater for the Phillies and boasted 21 quality starts last season, plus three more in the playoffs that saw the team reach the NLCS for the second straight season. He’s also been highly successful in inducing soft contact, according to Baseball Prospectus.

But, like Strider, that ERA has to come down to for him to become a legitimate Cy Young contender. That would be true unless all of a sudden he becomes a 20-game winner with an extremely impressive strikeout rate per nine innings. In his nine-year career, though, his highest victory total was 14 despite pitching for quality Mets and Phillies clubs.

Logan Webb (2023: 11-13, 3.25), RHP, San Francisco : The veteran, who is entering his sixth season, had a league-best 24 quality starts last year but in his 33 outings was the victim of some of the poorest average run support in the league at 3.16 a game. When he got 3-plus runs he went 9-2. But he was 2-11 with 2 or fewer runs.

And the voters took notice of that handicap — he finished second in last year’s voting after opening with +2500 odds. Had he squeezed past Snell for the top spot he would have been the first starting pitcher with a losing record to win the Cy Young. Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne went 2-3 in 2003, but he also had 55 saves.

Max Fried (2023: 8-1, 2.55), RHP, Atlanta : Fried made only 14 starts last season, missing time with a forearm strain and later with a finger blister. If he would have had the qualifying number of innings pitched (he was 84.1 short) he would have landed with the second best ERA on the MLB chart behind Snell. 

Zac Gallen (2023: 17-9, 3.47), RHP, Arizona : He had the majors’ second-most wins and came on with a rush for the pennant-winning Diamondbacks last year. But he wasn’t much of a factor in the postseason, yielding six homers in 33.2 innings and posting an ERA of 4.54. It’s probably wise to wait to see how he breaks from the gate.

Longer NL Cy Young odds worth a look

Justin Steele (2023: 16-5, 3.06), LHP, Chicago : Last year he was pitching’s premier out-of-nowhere success story in the league. He opened the season at +20000 on some oddsboards, but at one point late in the year was 16-3 and had a 2.55 ERA for the upstart Cubs before slipping — as did the team overall in failing to gain a playoff berth. Not a bad season for a guy who was 8-11 in his first two seasons in the league. He appears ready to really blossom.

Sonny Gray (2023: 8-8, 2.79 with Minnesota), RHP, St. Louis : He finished second in the AL Cy Young voting last year while with the Twins before joining the Cardinals on a 3-year, $75M offseason deal in free agency. In 2019 while with Cincinnati he was seventh in the NL voting, so he’s used to playing at a high level. If the Cardinals can start hitting again — they were 19th in the majors in runs scored last year after being tied for fifth in 2022 — this guy has a chance to be a key contender.

Merrill Kelly (2023: 12-8, 3.29), RHP,  Arizona : He’s worth a bet of a few dollars after at times performing better than Diamondbacks ace Gallen. In fact, in the playoffs he was the team’s best pitcher, going 3-1 and earning the club’s only victory in the World Series.

Source : ESPN.com

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