While the AL Cy Young race this year is as wide open as any futures market this year, the NL is stocked full of elite arms atop the oddsboard. And it’s hard to know which one to bet.
Reigning winners Sandy Alcantara (2022) and Corbin Burnes (2021) are tied for the shortest betting odds (+500) at BetMGM ahead of Thursday’s start to the MLB season.
Just behind them is reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander (+600), while three-time winner Max Scherzer (+800) and sophomore star Spencer Strider (+900) round out the top five.
Here’s a look at the preseason odds to win NL Cy Young, with three of our favorite targets ahead of Opening Day:
2023 NL Cy Young preseason betting odds (via BetMGM)
Brandon Woodruff (20/1)
Any list for Cy Young values has to include Woodruff, who’s perennially one of the most underappreciated starters in baseball and has the stuff to make a run at this award.
The Brewers stud suffered through a rough first couple of months in 2022 before he was sidelined for nearly all of June. He returned with a dominant 10-strikeout effort over the Rays and posted a sterling 2.38 ERA with a 31.6% strikeout rate over his final 18 starts.
Both of those marks ranked in the top five among qualified NL starters in that span, which came a year after Woodruff finished fifth in Cy Young voting. With a betting price outside of the top 10 in this market, this could be the biggest value bet on the board.
Joe Musgrove (25/1)
It’s never enviable to bet on a pitcher who isn’t healthy for Opening Day, but it feels like Musgrove is getting knocked too much in this market for what should be a week or two on the shelf.
When he returns, he’ll likely assert himself as one of the best pitchers in the NL. The Padres ace ranked in the top 10 among NL starters in ERA (2.93), SIERA (3.45) and strikeout rate (24.9%) in 2022, and he allowed the league’s fifth-lowest hard-hit rate (26.9%).
He also ranked third in called strikes plus whiff rate (30.8%), which is often a strong indicator of future success for elite strike-throwers. Assuming Musgrove is good to go by mid-April, this will look like a steal in hindsight.
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Hunter Greene (40/1)
This is admittedly a bit of a long shot, and the value has been sapped a bit as excitement builds around the Reds’ electric righty. Still, it’s not inconceivable that he could put it all together this year.
You likely already know about Greene’s epic velocity, having thrown more pitches at 100 MPH last year (337) than nearly every other starter combined. But he’s not all gas: the 23-year-old posted a 0.62 ERA over his final five starts with 45 strikeouts to just seven walks.
Clearly, Greene has the stuff of a frontline ace, and the way his rookie season ended was an incredibly positive sign for his outlook in 2023. There’s risk here, but few pitchers boast a Cy Young-worthy ceiling at such an attractive price.