AL Cy Young odds have, in most ways, developed about as expected. Sure, Jacob deGrom is hurt (shocker) and Dylan Cease stumbled. But Gerrit Cole, Shane McClanahan and Shohei Ohtani are at the top of the board, three altogether unsurprising names. Kevin Gausman, meanwhile, finds himself in the second tier of the MLB betting contenders — just beyond the 10-1 mark.
Is the betting market selling Gausman a bit short? Let’s dissect if he merits a bet among 2023 AL Cy Young odds.
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WAR Should Give Gausman A Case
One thing stands out about Gausman’s candidacy, owning the second-best AL pitching WAR at this early juncture. Just 0.1 WAR behind Nate Eovaldi, who’s certainly down-ballot candidate despite his impressive start, that leaves Gausman as the leader among the favorites.
Crucially, all of the projection systems housed at FanGraphs expect Gausman to rank no worse than third in accumulated pitching WAR the rest of the way. Combine that with his lead over the other favorites, as McClanahan and Cole are both nearly a full win behind him, and Gausman stands a great chance of leading the AL in this department by season’s end.
That said, leading in WAR is no guarantee of bringing home the Cy. In fact, exactly half of the Cy Young winners over the past five years led their league in FanGraphs WAR. Each year, one of the two winners led their respective leagues.
Some victors finished well down the odds board — highlighted by Robbie Ray finishing low as seventh in the AL in 2021. Aaron Nola, last year’s NL pitching WAR leader, didn’t come close to unseating Sandy Alcantara, failing to even crack the top-three candidates among voters.
But, it certainly can’t hurt to have the WAR lead, and it shows the great start to the season Gausman has enjoyed. If he can maintain his stellar ratios, he will have a great case.
Accumulation shouldn’t be an issue for Gausman, who has been a workhorse and a picture of health. He has made at least 30 starts in five of the past six non-COVID seasons. Fanning a career-best (for a full season) 31.9% of batters, Gausman should have a gaudy strikeout figure as well.
Cy Young Predictor Low On Gausman’s Early Chances
While the early WAR numbers paint a rosy picture for Gausman, at least one other crucial metric does not like his MLB betting odds.
Tom Tango’s Cy Young predictor has him buried down the board. It lists no fewer than 12 pitchers from the AL ahead of Gausman. Now, market prices and common sense tell me Eduardo Rodriguez and Dane Dunning, among others, basically have no shot here. Nevertheless, it’s at least telling that the other top names rank well above Gausman.
The key factor appears to be pitchers wins. Although Gausman’s team has scuffled in his starts to hand him a 2-3 record, McClanahan just scooped up his eighth win. Joe Ryan (7) and Eovaldi (6) aren’t far behind.
Pitcher wins take on a reduced weight in Tango’s modern formula, but they still have some predictive value. Some voters still look at them, and Gausman seriously lags in this category.
Thankfully for Gausman, he plays for Toronto. This issue should smooth itself out, with the Jays projected to score the fourth-most runs the rest of the way.
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Mo’s Bet: Gausman To Win Al Cy Young +1500
Yes, it will be tough to unseat Shane McClanahan and Gerrit Cole. The former has probably been the best pitcher in the AL on a rate basis the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the latter has been the most consistently dominant force in pitching for the past five or so years. You can pretty much etch in stone that he’ll produce 200 innings of elite work.
Still, I think Gausman is very live and at much longer odds. Due to his combination of stellar projections and excellent work to this point of the season, I believe he’s a little undervalued here.
I recommender a wager on Gausman to win the AL Cy Young last week in TheLines.com Discord channel. At that time, the best price was a +1500 available at Caesars Sportsbook. Since then, Cole has had a weak start against the Orioles while McClanahan turned in another gem against the Jays. That combination saw McClanahan inch ahead as the favorite.
Gausman also had a strong start against the O’s with eight innings of two-run work. However, that outing didn’t move his MLB betting odds, and he continues to fly under the radar.
In fact, there’s now a +1600 available at Caesars at the time of writing, and if you’re reading this article at a later date, you can see the best available price here: .
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