AL Cy Young Odds: Verlander Jumps From Longshot To Favorite

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35)
Image Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a new favorite on the AL Cy Young odds board — and he just happens to be an old face.

That’s right, Houston Astros (once-again) ace and two-time Cy Young recipient Justin Verlander is now favored to take home the hardware for the third time in his career. Not too bad for a 39-year-old coming off Tommy John surgery.

Behind Verlander stands another group of contenders making a push up the AL Cy Young odds board. It’s a group headlined by Toronto’s Kevin Gausman and Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan, each of whom has notched consistently solid performances in the first two months of the season. As a result, their odds to take home the coveted award have improved dramatically.

With Memorial Day Weekend upon us and the dog days of the MLB season in sight, breaks down the top pitchers on BetMGM’s AL Cy Young odds board.

2022 AL Cy Young Odds

Player Team Odds
Justin Verlander Houston Astros+450
Kevin GausmanToronto Blue Jays+500
Alek Manoah Toronto Blue Jays+800
Gerrit Cole New York Yankees+900
Shane McClanahan Tampa Bay Rays +900
Shohei Ohtani Los Angeles Angels +900
Nestor Cortes New York Yankees+1000
Dylan Cease Chicago White Sox +1500
Shane Bieber Cleveland Guardians+2500
Lucas Giolito Chicago White Sox +2500

Odds via BetMGM as of May 27. 

Verlander Makes A Huge Leap

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35)
Image Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

With two Cy Young awards under his belt, Verlander is no stranger to impressive performances. But nobody knew what to expect from the Astros’ flamethrower heading into the 2022 season. That’s because the last time he was on the mound was on Opening Day of the COVID-delayed 2020 season.

Verlander departed that July outing with elbow soreness, setting the stage for 18 months of post-Tommy John surgery rehab. The big right-hander finally returned to Houston’s rotation in April, and he’s looked as dominant as ever.

As June approaches, Verlander (6-1) is tied for the MLB lead in wins (with Dodgers righty Walker Buehler), and his 1.22 ERA is far and away the best in baseball. Next best: the Rangers’ Martín Perez at 1.60.

Throw in the fact that Verlander recently almost threw his fourth career no-hitter, and it’s no surprise that his AL Cy Young odds have plummeted. After opening the season +2000, he’s now the +450 favorite.

Right behind Verlander is Gausman, whose story also is worth telling. The right-hander signed a free-agent contract with the Blue Jays in the offseason following a career year with the Giants in 2021. Even though Gausman is 4-3 on the season, he sports a 2.25 ERA with a 65-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio and just one homer allowed in 56 innings. Those numbers have pushed Gausman’s Cy Young odds from +2000 to +500.

McClanahan, Cortes State Their Case

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Shane McClanahan (18) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field.
Image Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

McClanahan also has made an impressive jump up the AL Cy Young odds board. The Rays’ southpaw started right where Verlander and Gausman did at +2000, but is now sitting as the co-fourth choice with two very familiar names: reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani of the Angels and New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole.

McClanahan is 4-2 on the season with a 2.06 ERA and a league-leading 74 strikeouts. So even though (like most Rays pitchers) the 25-year-old doesn’t get a ton of run support, he’s been giving his team a chance to win every time he steps on the bump.

The same can be said of another 2022 breakout star: Yankees lefty Nestor Cortes. A former 36th-round draft pick who is in his second stint with New York, Cortes has leaned heavily into a nasty cutter that has helped him go 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA in nine starts. Cortes, who has 61 strikeouts in 53 innings, has gone from off the board to +1000. That puts him seventh on BetMGM’s AL Cy Young odds board.

Cortes’ $727,500 salary this season dwarfs that of Cole, who is pulling in $36 million. But by all metrics, Cortes has been superior on the mound. To this point in the season, he’s earned the title of the best pitcher on the best team (record-wise) in baseball.

Cole, Bieber Fall Back

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45)
Image Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cole opened this season as the favorite in BetMGM’s AL Cy Young odds market at +400. However, as noted above, the Yankees’ ace has slid back to +900 and the co-fourth choice with McClanahan and Ohtani. Frankly, the odds tumble probably isn’t as great as it should be, as Cole’s numbers (4-1, 3.31 ERA) aren’t indicative of his mediocre showing so far. He’s clearly been saved quite a bit by the Yankees’ explosive offense.

As mentioned, Cortes has been much more effective and consistent than Cole to his point in the campaign. And last we checked, you need to headline your own pitching staff before you can claim to be the best pitcher in the league.

As eye-catching as Cole’s Cy Young odds slide has been, it’s nothing compared with that of Cleveland Guardians ace Shane Bieber. The 2020 Cy Young winner started the season right behind Cole at +700. He’s now a +2500 long shot.

A shoulder injury sidelined Bieber for three months last season. Although the right-hander has taken the ball every time his turn in the rotation has come around this season, the results have been sporadic. Bieber is 1-3 with a 3.55 ERA for the Guardians, posting a ho-hum 46-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 45.2 innings.

To be fair, aside from the win-loss record, Bieber’s numbers are decent. But Cy Young worthy? Nope — at least not right now.