The calendar may have just turned to March but that hasn’t stopped people from placing their bets for the NL Cy Young for the 2020 season. Unlike the American League, both the handle and bets feature a number of different names at DraftKings Sportsbook, especially in the top five in both categories. Let’s look how this breaks down in the early going.
Walker Buehler is the early favorite in both bets and handle
Despite sporting the third-best odds overall, Buehler is receiving the love from the public. As it currently stands on DraftKings Sportsbook, the top three in terms of odds are Jacob deGrom (+300), Max Scherzer (+375) and then Buehler. Through a career-high 30 starts last season, Buehler ended 2019 with a 3.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 29.2 K% and a 3.01 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching; measures what a pitchers ERA would be with league-average defense). With numbers like that, the 25-year old could take another step forward this season with the high powered Dodgers offense bringing him plenty of run support. Last season, he enjoyed an average of 5.7 runs per start and now will have newly acquired OF Mookie Betts setting the table. With current odds at +900 for Buehler, it brings a great opportunity to take down the award with a solid ROI for bettors.
Surprising name garners heavy amount of handle
I was surprised to see Zack Wheeler second in handle. The reason being is that he’s currently 10th in current bets, meaning a heavy amount of money has been placed on him — indicating a sharp play. Wheeler is currently boasting +5000, putting him in the same company as Robbie Ray and Brandon Woodruff, both of whom possess some elite strikeout potential. While Wheeler is a good pitcher, I wouldn’t say he’s on the same level in terms of strikeouts as the others mentioned. Last season, Ray, Woodruff and Wheeler ended with K% of 31.5%, 29% and 23.6%, respectively.
Wheeler is also moving from Citi Field to Citizens Bank Park after signing a five-year, $118 million contract. The smaller ballpark could pose an issue, as Wheeler struggled more on the road than he did at Citi Field. The Phillies have underperformed despite their talented roster so they’ll be looking to improve upon the 81-81 record they posted. While the odds are great, this seems like a much risker play than it shows on the surface.
Is Luis Castillo being undervalued?
Castillo (+2000) is currently seventh in both handle and bets taken. He’s currently the only Reds pitcher on the list, whom I think could be a dark horse team in the NL Central this upcoming season. With another disappointing 2019, as they ended with a 75-87 record, Castillo didn’t exactly grab headlines. Despite the poor team season, Castillo still posted a 3.40 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, 29 K%, and a 3.70 FIP. Now, with a very good offense behind him, Castillo could take that next step in 2020. His swing-and-miss rate has improved in all three seasons, topping out last year at 16%. His fly ball rate also took quite a dip in 2019, going from 32.4% in 2018 to 26.7%. Most importantly, Castillo did an excellent job of keeping the ball inside the park, as his HR/9 sat at 1.04, which was the lowest he’s posted in his three year career. All these favorable numbers came through 190 2/3 innings, spanning 32 starts in which he went 15-8.
NL Cy Young betting splits, Feb 28
|Rank||By Handle||By Bets|
|Rank||By Handle||By Bets|
|1||Walker Buehler||Walker Buehler|
|2||Zack Wheeler||Aaron Nola|
|3||Jack Flaherty||Jack Flaherty|
|4||Yu Darvish||Jacob deGrom|
|5||Noah Syndergaard||Noah Syndergaard|
|6||Aaron Nola||Yu Darvish|
|7||Luis Castillo||Luis Castillo|
|8||Jacob deGrom||Chris Paddack|
|9||Clayton Kershaw||Max Scherzer|
|10||Chris Paddack||Zack Wheeler|