MLB Picks: Handicapping the 2015 National League Cy Young Race

Kevin Stott

Thursday, April 23, 2015 6:27 PM GMT

After taking a look at the American League Cy Young Award Futures marketplace last story, it’s time to examine the National League—which basically means trying to find a way to fade last year’s recipient Clayton Kershaw, who at +333, offers no perceived value and isn’t worth a pick. 

Introduction
Unlike the American League Cy Young Award Futures marketplace, the National League odds at United Kingdom bookmaker Paddy Power creates a reality where it seems betting against (fading) the extremely heavy favorite (+333, Paddy Power) is the real route to a decent potential profit while trying to squeeze out a little bit of Entertainment Value along the way. After all, a Futures bet in Major League Baseball (MLB) will sit doing absolutely nothing like a bump on a log during the spring and summer months of April, May, June, July, August and September (6 months), meaning one has to wait until the fall and the month of October to theoretically collect any winnings and the original bet money (which was tied up for half a year). As discussed in our AL Cy Young Awards Preview, these two Cy Young Award winner marketplaces are very niche, very under-discussed and bet into and appear to have some value if the right bet can be made at the right time. And if the (usually) Starting Pitcher or Pitchers one decides to bet on continues to have a good start (imperative), still flourishes after the all-Star break, nears the 20-win mark and generally has an ERA below 2.75 when all is said and done, then you probably have a dog in the fight.

Last year, the two winners of the Cy Young Award in MLB were Corey Kluber (18-9, 2.44 ERA, 269 Ks) of the Cleveland Indians in the American League and the aforementioned Kershaw (21-3, 1.77 ERA, 239 Ks) of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League. And, one important thing to remember if placing a serious, or even a recreational wager in this market is that the Baseball Writer’s Association of America—one member for each team of the 30 currently in the league—vote on the winner of this annual award given to each league’s best Pitcher by each voting for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th best Pitchers in that league in their minds. And at this particular book, that there is no ‘Field’ entry.

Check a Pitcher Win Totals Predicition here

Why Fade Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young Award You Ask?
There are a couple of good reasons not to take Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander extraordinaire and last season’s NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (21-3, 1.77 ERA, 239 Ks) to win the Cy Young award in the NL again this time around. And the first one is perceived value on the MLB odds. Whereas the recommended pick in the AL—Seattle Mariners’ superstar veteran ace righty Félix Hernández (6/1, Paddy Power)—would at least be able to turn a modest $20 bet into $120, or a serious $250 bet into $1,500, a $20 bet on Kershaw would yield just $66 and a $100 Futures toss only $333, should he win. Not enough. Instead, at least at this specific point in the season (April 22), it seems taking one of the other more potentially profitable hurlers like Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals, 12/1 to win World Series, bet365) ace Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38 ERA in 2014), off to a 2-1, 1.71 ERA, 14 Ks, 1.01 WHIP start; the New York Mets knuckleballer Matt Harvey (3-0, 3.50); or Washington Nationals new acquisition, Max Scherzer (1-1, 0.83 ERA, 25 Ks, 0.83 WHIP), would make a lot more sense and possibly provide more value if one of them should hit. The current prices for these three Starting Pitchers to win the NL Cy Young Award at Paddy Power are Scherzer—8/1, Harvey—10/1 and Wainwright—12/1. And, as far as the Dodgers’ (+750 to win World Series, Paddy Power) Kershaw (+333 to win NL Cy Young Award), well, he has gotten off to 1-1, 4.42 ERA, 26 Ks, 1.53 WHIP heading into tonight’s (Wednesday) game against their hated rivals, the San Francisco Giants (33/1 to win World Series, Ladbrokes), and the writers may end up giving the edge to someone else over an expected and repeat winner like LA’s Kershaw.

 

Cy Young Award Candidates in the Senior Circuit Not Worth It This Season
Although still relatively early in the MLB season, there are a number of NL Pitchers who have gotten off to choppy or unappealing starts in my mind, meaning that the road may be too tough to get to the All-Star break in July in contention for Cy Young consideration. Scherzer’s Nationals’ teammates Jordan Zimmerman (9/1, 1-2, 6.14 ERA) Stephen Strasburg (10/1, 1-1, 4.50) and Gio Gonzalez (35/1, 1-1, 3.44, 1.58 WHIP) are all toss-outs in my mind, especially in favor of their new Washington teammate. San Diego Padres new-signee James Shields (10/1; 2-0, 2.84) has got off to a nice start and the Padres (28/1, Coral) look much improved but I can’t help but keep thinking they’re still the Padres and that they have to bang heads with the Dodgers, defending World Series champion Giants, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks just in their NL West Division. Shields would have to probably go 20-6 and the Padres make the NLCS for any real consideration here. Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner (12/1; 1-1, 5.29 ERA) and Chicago Cubs (28/1, Paddy Power) new-signing Jon Lester (20/1; 0-2, 6.89 ERA) have both got off to nasty statistical starts and it would be a stretch right now to expect either to make the NLCS. Twenty-four-year-old right-handed fireballer Julio Teheran (20/1 odds; 2-0, 3.71 ERA) of the Atlanta Braves (80/1, Ladbrokes) would be one my two MLB picks for a Long Shot guy in the Senior Circuit in this market, but for the last several years it has seemed Atlanta has had trouble scoring runs, a tough reality for a Starting Pitcher trying to get Wins which look good to the Cy Young voters. The Cincinnati Reds (66/1, William Hill) Johnny Cueto (10/1; 0-2, 2.14 ERA, 24 KS), Kershaw’s Dodgers’ teammate Zack Greinke (12/1; 2-0, 1.83 ERA) and Cubs youngster Jake Arrieta (18/1; 2-1, 1.74 ERA, 19 Ks) are all intriguing picks, and Greinke and arrieta ar both off to nice starts and the latter is also worth some Long Shot (18/1) consideration now, especially Chicago’s 6-4, 29-year-old upstart right-hander, improvements and new manager on the North Side, Joe Maddon.

 

Empty Energy Gas Tank and Beatdown Fingertips Conclusions
I have no conclusion and little energy left to continue writing this evening Mr. Readerman. I am so sorry. And my hands are tired, so I hope you got the gist here and either lay off this specific (NL Cy Young Award) marketplace—the AL and an aforementioned bet on M’s ace Félix Hernández seems the the best of the lot—take a shot on someone you like, or maybe take one or all three of these specific selections in some creative manner. The Bottom Line is that the Cardinals (Wainwright), Mets (Harvey) and Nationals (Scherzer) should all finish above the .500 mark and all should be be in their respective and/or the divisional Wild Card races, putting more shine on their potential future starts for those teams. The writers will want to reward the pitcher (in each league) that actually helped his team get over any humps and into the postseason, and these three right-handers can all be counted on in the clutch, and, as discussed above, all got off to really nice statistical starts—something almost necessary both psychologically and mathematically for the eventual winners in each league. Best of Luck.

NL CY YOUNG PICKS: Max Scherzer 8/1, Matt Harvey 10/1, Adam Wainwright 12/1 (Paddy Power)

NL CY YOUNG LONG SHOT PICKS: Julio Teherán 20/1, Jake Arrieta 18/1 (Paddy Power)