MLB Betting Odds: Gerrit Cole Heavy Favorite to Win American League Cy Young Award

The American League Cy Young race this season has turned into a battle of attrition — which means even though he’s pitching for the free-falling New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole likely needs to just remain healthy for a few more weeks in order to lock up the long-awaited first Cy Young Award that will continue burnishing his Hall of Fame case. 

But if Cole falters, there are a couple starters building interesting cases behind him — as well as one closer who probably should be getting more attention regardless. All MLB odds from DraftKings as of Aug. 17.

Gerrit Cole, Yankees (-380)

Just as he was a worthy candidate to make his first All-Star Game start this year when the calendar finally worked out in his favor — Cole has been selected to the team six times but this year marked just his second appearance in the Midsummer Classic — Cole will be a deserving Cy Young Award winner if he takes home the award.

The right-hander has displayed both durability (he leads the AL with 156 1/3 innings pitched) and excellence (he ranks second in ERA, is tied for third in strikeouts and tied for seventh in wins).

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But he’s also the last man standing among AL starters. Tampa Bay Rays ace Shane McClanahan, who was 11-1 with a 2.16 ERA in his first 15 starts, posted a 7.36 ERA in his final six starts before suffering an elbow injury that will require another Tommy John surgery.

Nathan Eovaldi was 11-3 with an AL-best 2.69 ERA in his first 19 starts for the resurgent Texas Rangers, but the two-time Tommy John survivor has been on the shelf with a forearm injury this month. And Rangers Opening Day starter Jacob deGrom, one of the preseason favorites, underwent his second Tommy John surgery after making just six starts.

Add it all up and Cole can all but begin clearing space on his mantle.

Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays (+450)

Gausman has quietly become a legitimate ace. He’s on pace to record at least 200 strikeouts (he leads the AL with 187 whiffs) and make at least 30 starts while recording a sub-3.50 ERA for the third straight season. But this year’s 3.24 ERA, which ranks ninth in the AL, is inflated by five outings in which he’s given up at least four runs.

Framber Valdez, Astros (+950)

Valdez, the testament to the Astros’ uncanny ability to unearth amateur gems, could exceed 200 innings for a second straight season, which basically makes him the Don Sutton of the modern era. He also has a no-hitter and ranks among the AL top 10 in both ERA and WHIP. But he may miss a start or two down the stretch as the Astros, who re-acquired Justin Verlander on Aug. 1, try to work six legitimate starters into five spots.

Felix Bautista, Orioles (+10000)

With only Cole putting together a traditional Cy Young case among starters, it’s surprising Bautista isn’t getting more attention. The Baltimore closer is a true fireman who has factored into the decision in a whopping 79 percent of his outings (he’s 7-2 with 32 saves in 52 appearances). When Dennis Eckersley won the Cy Young and the MVP in 1992, he factored into the decision in 86 percent of his outings (7-1 with 51 saves in 69 outings).

Bautista is also 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA and five saves in the nine appearances in which he has recorded more than three outs. That’s good! 

But closers need a historic season and then some to win the Cy Young. Eckersley, who was an All-Star starter before becoming a closer, and Eric Gagne, who was 55-for-55 in save opportunities in 2003, are the only relievers to earn the award since 1990.

Fernando Rodney finished fifth in the AL in 2012, when he was 2-2 with 48 saves and a 0.60 ERA for the Rays. The Orioles’ Zack Britton finished fourth in the AL balloting in 2016 despite going 2-1 with 47 saves and a 0.54 ERA. Edwin Diaz placed ninth in the NL voting last year after going 3-1 with 32 saves and a 1.31 ERA for the New York Mets.

So while Bautista’s outstanding season is likely to vault the Orioles into a top seed in the AL playoffs, it’s probably not going to yield him a Cy Young.

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