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Odds taken from BetMGM sportsbook
|Justin Verlander, Houston Astros||-155
|Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox||+110
|Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays||+2500
|Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels||+4000
|Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays||+8000
|Framber Valdez, Houston Astros||+8000
|Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees||+15000
|Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians||+15000
|Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays||+15000
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Two years in a row, the American League Cy Young Award winner has seemingly come out of nowhere to snatch it. Shane Bieber was known as a solid pitcher entering 2020, but nobody knew he could be nearly flawless (even if it was only a two-month season).
Last year Robbie Ray had a resurgence after his time in Arizona never quite worked out as he became one of the three best left-handed pitchers in the game. So the question now is will we see a new face do it once again, or will it be an established name who is named the league’s top pitcher?
We take a look at four options that we like – two of the favorites and then two that offer a lot of value based on their payout
We had to look this up just to double-check because it didn’t feel right – but it’s true, Gerrit Cole somehow has not won a Cy Young award. Cole has finished in the top five of the voting each of the past four years including two runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2021, but the title continues to somehow elude him.
Last year’s effort was a down-year by Cole’s lofty standards and that was thought by many to be because of the switch in the MLB’s enforcement of foreign substances on baseballs – particularly ‘sticky stuff’. Through 11 starts, Cole had a 1.78 ERA. Over the next four months, Cole had an ERA higher than 4.50 in three of them and had five starts in a 19-game stretch where he gave up at least five runs.
But at the end of the day, Cole is Cole and finished at 16-8 overall with a 3.23 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and had 243 strikeouts in 181.1 innings pitched. If Cole was in a pitcher-friendly stadium, it’s hard to imagine what his numbers would be, but even in New York, this is worth a bet.
In terms of the best ‘stuff’ in baseball – Shane Bieber might be No. 2 behind only Jacob deGrom. Bieber had an off-year in 2021, battling injuries while making just 16 starts and in his ‘down year’ still went 7-4 overall with a 3.17 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and a better than 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
The year before, the 60-game covid season, when he won the Cy Young, he was nearly flawless for 12 starts, going 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA, 0.866 WHIP, and had a nearly 6:1 strikeout to wall ratio.
Bieber appears as if he’s still getting ramped up – he gave up three runs on four hits in 1.1 innings in his first spring outing – but even with that, signs point to the ace getting the ball on Opening Day. Should the Guardians take it slowly with him, Bieber is in prime position to bounce back.
Just look around the world of baseball and those who know what they’re talking about. Now’s the time in the offseason (or preseason) when we’re hearing all about who the breakout candidates will be in 2022. Consistently, the name Dylan Cease is near the top of that list.
Cease took a major step in 2021 with many of the advanced metrics, finishing second in contact rate, second in pitches in the strike zone and fifth in strikeout rate. OVerall, CEse went 13-7 on the season acros 32 starts, striking out 226 batters in 165.2 innings, while finishing with a 3.91 ERA and league-leading 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
He got a taste of the postseason pitching in the ALDS and now the 26-year-old, along with Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn, will be asked to anchor the rotation for the AL Central-favorite White Sox.
Welcome back, old reliable. Justin Verlander, a first-ballot hall-of-Famer, returns to the mound after missing the 2021 season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
While many have questions about the combination of a veteran in the final years of his career returning from a significant surgery – the main trouble (generally) with Tommy John is the longevity afterwards and that shouldn’t be a problem here.
Not to mention, the last time Verlander was healthy and there was a full major league season (2019) he won the Cy Young Award. Few have turned the clock back ever like Verlander has. He still has his mid-90’s fastball, a devastating curveball and mixes in a slider as well as a change-up to the left-handed hitters.
Verlander has had a WHIP below .900 and an ERA below 3.00 for the entirety of his Astros career, which spans 74 starts. Nobody is better at conserving their energy and ramping up for a full season than Verlander (the best pitcher of his generation) and that will be evident once again this season.
|Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays||2021|
|Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians||2020|
|Justin Verlander, Houston Astros||2019|
|Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays||2018|
|Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians||2017|
|Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox||2016|
|Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros||2015|
|Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians||2014|
|Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers||2013|
|David Price, Tampa Bay Rays||2012|
|Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers||2011|
|Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners||2010|
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Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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