The odds at DraftKings Sportsbook for the American League Cy Young race have shifted quite a bit in recent weeks as Justin Verlander, Dylan Cease and Shane McClanahan have been battling it out for the prestigious pitching award. On Tuesday night, Verlander and Cease faced one another and had mixed results, both allowing three earned runs in a game that ended in a 4-3 White Sox victory. The game didn’t appear to move the needle in either pitcher’s direction, but the odds have clearly been trending towards Verlander and Cease and away from McClanahan over the last few weeks. Here are the odds as of August 18:
Justin Verlander (Astros) -190
Dylan Cease (White Sox) +225
Shane McClanahan (Rays) +900
Shane McClanahan was the favorite to win AL CY Young like 10 days ago and he probably has a 10% chance at best right now— Matt Meiselman (@PreachingSense) August 7, 2022
The AL Cy Young has appeared to be a two-horse race for much of the season, but it was Verlander and McClanahan as the clear favorites with Cease much further back for multiple months. Cease has been good all season. After allowing seven earned runs against the Red Sox on May 24, he had 14 consecutive starts in which he allowed one earned run or less, a streak that ended Tuesday against the Astros.
McClanahan was just as good, perhaps even better than Cease (with higher strikeout numbers) over that same timespan, but his last few starts have been far worse.
July 31 vs CLE: 4.1 IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
August 6 at DET: 6.1 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts
August 13 vs BAL: 6.0 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Every pitcher is bound to give up runs sooner or later, but the most worrisome trend for McClanahan has been the lack of strikeouts. This is a pitcher who has averaged well above 10 strikeouts per nine innings for the last two seasons, but he’s recorded just 10 total Ks in his last three starts against teams that aren’t exactly among the MLB’s best offenses. On top of that, McClanahan’s velocity has been inconsistent in July and August compared to where it was for much of the year, and it makes sense given that this is now the first time in his career that McClanahan has topped 125 innings pitched — majors and minors included.
It’s certainly possible that McClanahan will regain his strength and rejoin the race, but for now, it appears as though the AL Cy Young will wind up in the hands of Cease or Verlander. Verlander is probably the rightful favorite with an ERA of just 1.95 and a 15-3 record — something that voters still probably care about — and the narratives around the 39-year-old starter’s resurgence after missing all of the 2021 season will probably help his case as well.
McClanahan is schedule to take the mound for the next time on Friday August 19 with a home matchup against the Royals, while Cease’s next start should be Sunday August 21 at the Guardians. Verlander’s next appearance figures to come either Monday August 22 in Atlanta or Tuesday August 23 at home against the Twins.
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