After a dizzying few days, the dust from the 2023 trade deadline has finally started to settle. The landscape of the league has shifted dramatically just over the last 48 hours or so: Justin Verlander is an Astro; Max Scherzer (and Jordan Montgomery) is a Ranger; the Dodgers, Rays and Orioles all found themselves a starting pitcher, while the Reds didn’t. The Angels (and Cubs) are all the way in, the Mets are all the way out, and the Twins and Yankees ... apparently did not have cell reception on Tuesday afternoon. That’s a whole lot of change, and unsurprisingly, the futures market for season-ending awards has responded accordingly.
So, just like we did out of the All-Star break, let’s celebrate the start of baseball’s stretch run with a look at how the past few weeks and the trade deadline have impacted the AL Cy Young race over at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Updated AL Cy Young odds as of 8/3
Gerrit Cole +140 Kevin Gausman +425 Framber Valdez +500
Luis Castillo +900 Nathan Eovaldi +1500 Shohei Ohtani +2000
Shane McClanahan +3000 Felix Bautista +4000 Logan Gilbert +10000
Pablo Lopez +10000 George Kirby +10000 Sonny Gray +10000
The fact that just eight pitchers have odds lower than +10000 should tell you just how much — and how quickly — this race has consolidated in recent weeks. Ohtani still has as much upside as anyone, but a few rough outings (thanks at least in part to a cracked fingernail on his pitching hand) have inflated his ERA a bit. Eovaldi just went on the IL with a forearm issue after weeks of diminished velocity, and McClanahan could be right behind him after being forced to leave his start against the Yankees on Wednesday night. All the other erstwhile contenders — Gray, Kirby, Lopez, Joe Ryan, Zach Eflin — have taken a hit due to injury, ineffectiveness or some combination of the two.
Cole, Gausman and Valdez have been just about the only pitchers in the AL immune from all that chaos (and even Gausman has had the occasional eight-run blowup this year). Cole has been New York’s one constant amid a floundering season, just churning out quality starts every time he gets the ball, while Gausman is the league’s preeminent strikeout artist and Valdez just put a stamp on his candidacy with a no-hitter on Tuesday night.
AL Cy Young race: Takeaways and best bets
Luis Castillo, +900
Look, there’s a reason Cole is being treated as the prohibitive favorite for this award — he’s been the sturdiest pitcher in the AL all year, and there’s also a groundswell of support to finally get him his first Cy Young award after years of dominance. Unless something changes dramatically over the last two months, the trophy is his to lose.
But these are pitchers we’re talking about; something changes dramatically all the time. Let’s say Cole — who’s seen his fastball velocity and strikeout rate dip significantly this year — has his old home-run bugaboo pop up again, or the Yankees fall out of contention and choose to ease up on his workload. Who would be the most likely to fill that void? Valdez and Castillo have similar arguments: among the best in the league in most major categories, lynchpins of their respective staffs amid several injuries, opportunities to pitch in big games down the stretch.
But Valdez’s no-hitter masked the fact that he’s actually been pretty mediocre for a while now, with a 5.25 ERA over his last six starts dating back to June 27. Castillo, meanwhile, has him beat in ERA, WHIP and K/9, and with the Mariners playing better ball of late, he should have several spotlight starts as he tries to will Seattle to a Wild Card spot. If these two are relatively even headed into the final two months, Castillo is the better bet to pitch well over that span, and he comes at slightly better odds.
Shohei Ohtani, +2000
I just can’t help myself. Again, Cole has a stranglehold on this award, and it’ll take something extraordinary to shake up that hierarchy with just two months to go — and who pulls off the extraordinary with more regularity than Ohtani? His complete-game masterpiece against the Tigers last time out put to bed any notions that his recent rough stretch was here to stay; that was more due to a fluky home run rate than anything else. Ohtani’s stuff remains the most electric in the league, and he leads all AL starters in hits allowed per 9 and is second only to Gausman in strikeouts per 9. Quite simply, he’s the most unhittable pitcher in the league — literally, his opponent batting average against is the lowest of any pitcher in the Majors — and the Angels will ride him as much as they can as they desperately try to nab a Wild Card spot. At +2000, you could do worse.