Between a rash of serious injuries to big names and the new rules designed to goose offense this season, pitching has been a bit topsy-turvy so far during the 2023 MLB season. Case in point: Last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner, Sandy Alcantara, currently sports a 5.84 ERA, while the runner-up, Max Fried, has thrown exactly 8.1 innings after suffering a hamstring injury on Opening Day.
Of course, where some see chaos, the more astute among us see opportunity. So let’s dive into the NL Cy Young betting market and see what we can find. Who’s the favorite? How have the first few weeks of the season impacted things? Where can you find value? We break it all down with the first three weeks of the year in the books, with odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
(And for our breakdown of the AL Cy Young race, click here.)
Updated NL Cy Young odds as of April 18th
Spencer Strider +550 Julio Urias +700 Zac Gallen +700
Sandy Alcantara +700 Dustin May +800 Max Scherzer +1300
Brandon Woodruff +1300 Corbin Burnes +1500 Max Fried +1600
Justin Verlander +1600 Aaron Nola +1700 Zack Wheeler +1700
Nick Lodolo +1700 Jesus Luzardo +2000 Kodai Senga +2500
NL Cy Young race: Takeaways and best bets
First thing’s first: With 14 names at +2000 or better — and five inside +1000 — this is a wide-open race. Which makes sense, as the market is in a bit of a holding pattern with so many names either uncharacteristically struggling (Alcantara, Nola) or limited due to injury (Scherzer, Woodruff, Burnes, Fried, Verlander).
Spencer Strider is the narrow favorite, and with his electric stuff — and a great Atlanta Braves lineup behind him — it’s not hard to see why. Urias’ terrific start to the season (1.90 ERA, 26 Ks in 23.1 innings) has him up to the second-lowest odds, while Nick Lodolo, Jesus Luzardo and Kodai Senga threaten to crash the party after strong starts for the Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins and New York Mets, respectively.
Best bet: Max Fried, Atlanta Braves
Sure, Fried’s start was hampered by that injury on Opening Day, but the lefty is back now — and looked tremendous in his return against the San Diego Padres on Monday night, spinning five shutout innings on the road. Strider will understandably get most of the hype given his eye-popping strikeout totals, but the righty has also yet to show that he can go deep into games (partially because of those strikeout totals).
Fried will also benefit from the same team context, but could rack up an innings advantage despite Strider’s head start. He should wind up with elite ratios, and at far better odds, he’s the Braves starter I’d take a stab at.
Best bet: Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati Reds
If you’re looking for a name a bit more off the beaten path, though, maybe go for Lodolo — who’s established himself as something of a lefty version of Strider so far this year. Despite pitching in arguably the most extreme offensive environment in baseball (yes, including Coors Field), Lodolo sports a 2.12 ERA through his first three starts. The reason? It’s hard to score runs when you’re not making contact, and Lodolo has whiffed a ridiculous 27 batters across his first 17 innings.
The Reds may not be competitive enough for Lodolo to get the attention he deserves, but that matters less to voters now than it has in the past. A former top prospect, he’ll be on people’s radars all year — especially if he keeps pitching like this — and might be able to match Strider strikeout for strikeout.