Hard as it is to believe, we’re nearly halfway through the 2023 MLB season. The sample size isn’t so small now, meaning we can say with a bit more confidence which breakouts are for real and which slow starts may not be much of a fluke after all. The landscape has shifted quite a bit over the past few weeks — Eury Perez is off to a historic start to his MLB career, Spencer Strider uncharacteristically stumbled and Zack Wheeler and Blake Snell have turned it on after slow starts — and the awards race markets have responded accordingly.
Updated NL Cy Young Award odds as of Tuesday, June 27
Zac Gallen +155 Clayton Kershaw +500 Spencer Strider +750
Logan Webb +900 Zack Wheeler +900 Mitch Keller +1500
Marcus Stroman +2000 Blake Snell +2500 Justin Steele +3000
Merrill Kelly +4000 Corbin Burnes +5500 Eury Perez +6000
NL Cy Young Award race: Takeaways and best bets
Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves
Strider hit a swoon in May, posting a shocking 5.55 ERA while coughing up 11 homers over nine starts from May 1 to June 14. That stretch has dropped him from prohibitive favorite to third in the race — and you’d be wise to take advantage of those more advantageous odds now before they quickly correct themselves. Strider already looks like he’s figured it out, dominating the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins to the tune of two runs and 19 strikeouts over 13 innings. That inflated home run total was as much the product of a fluky HR/FB rate as anything else, and nothing under the hood suggests that his stuff has declined in any meaningful way. That stuff, to be clear, might be the best in all of baseball, with Strider’s whiff and K rates sitting in the 98th percentile of all pitchers — starters and relievers. Maybe he’ll continue to fall victim to the long ball, but that’s the only way teams are going to score off of him, and I’ll bet on the most unhittable guy in the league.
Blake Snell, San Diego Padres
Of course, while Strider is the most unhittable guy in the league, Snell is the hottest: Over his last five starts, the lefty has put up a 0.29 ERA and 0.710 WHIP with 50 strikeouts in just 31 innings. Control, not stuff, has always been Snell’s issue, and we’ve seen how good he can be when he’s harnessing his pitches — just look at his AL Cy Young campaign back in 2019. Snell might revert back to the maddeningly inconsistent guy he’s been throughout most of his time in San Diego, but if he keeps this up, he has as much upside as anyone with very friendly odds.