The long grind that is the MLB season begins next week, and we're taking a look at MLB futures odds for which pitcher is the best pick to win the AL Cy Young Award.
Spring, summer, fall and winter are the four seasons most people observe. Not me. Only two seasons matter to me, those being college basketball and Major League Baseball, and we're getting ready to segue from the former to the latter.
It's such a perfect 12-month loops for both sports, the World Series wrapping up just about the same time college hoops is tipping off, and the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament taking place on or around Opening Day for the majors each spring. It's also a perfect time now to get down on both Final Four action and start making wagers on the MLB odds boards.
By now, everyone should have their selections in for division and league pennant winners, along picking a World Series champion. There are all sorts of prop bets also available, and now is the very best time to make your plays on the eventual Cy Young Award winners in both the American and National Leagues. We'll be focusing our free MLB picks on the Junior Circuit today.
A Lefty Named Dallas Pitching For Houston
'Fear the beard' was the battle cry for the Houston Astros last year every fifth day or so. That's when Dallas Keuchel pitched, and the former 7th-round pick out of Arkansas struck fear in opposing lineups en route to the 2015 AL Cy Young. The southpaw was AL Pitcher of the Month three times (April, May, August), and ended the season ranked first in innings pitched and WHIP, and second in the ERA column.
Keuchel wasn't even listed on many preseason MLB odds boards, and he's tied for fourth this year with a +600 payback at BetOnline, the same as Seattle's Felix Hernandez. There hasn't been a repeat winner in the American League since 1999-2000 when Pedro Martinez picked up the trophy twice, but Keuchel might be a good bet to end that streak Houston is among the favorites in the AL with a good, young lineup, and what could help Keuchel to another 20 win season is the Astros went out and beefed up their bullpen by trading for Philadelphia reliever Ken Giles.
The favorite in the AL this time around is another lefty, Chicago's Chris Sale. The 13th overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft, Sale took something of a step back in 2015, at least in the ERA column where his clip rose from 2.17 in 2014 to 3.41. What he has going for him are strikeouts, Sale leading the AL with 274 a year ago; working against him is the White Sox are picked fourth in the AL Central, and though we've seen pitchers on non-playoff teams take home the honor, voters tend to focus on squads that are at least in contention for the postseason.
Will Price Be Right In 2016?
Between Sale and Keuchel on the MLB futures odds are a couple of previous AL Cy Young winners, David Price and Corey Kluber. The two hurlers are also part of rotations for teams ranked second in their divisions entering the season, Boston a +150 pick in the AL East behind Toronto (+135) and Cleveland at +200 in the AL Central behind Kansas City (+175).
Price, the 2012 AL CY while pitching for Tampa Bay, signed as a free agent with the Red Sox this past winter and would seem to be a very good choice with a +300 payoff. Helping Boston back to the playoffs would give him some extra juice with some voters. Kluber (+350) is part of a very good rotation in Cleveland, something that could hurt him if he's not head and shoulders statistically above the likes of Carlos Carrasco (+800) and Danny Salazar (+2500).
Further down the list are a couple of young hurlers I really like. Chris Archer (+1200) might wind up being the toughest pitcher in the AL, but unless Tampa Bay can exceed expectations, his chances of winning the Cy Young aren't too good. My MLB pick for the award is something of a long shot at +3300, but Marcus Stroman -- all 5-foot-8 of him -- is very capable of putting up some big numbers, including a sub-3.00 ERA with 20 wins for a Blue Jays team favored to take the AL East, and that would make for a very sweet payday.
My pick: Marcus Stroman (+3300) at BetOnline