For some reason the starting pitchers in the National League are much better than those in the AL. This makes choosing a Cy Young winner more difficult, especially when you consider there is an overwhelming favorite in Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers lefty has decreased his career ERA in each of the previous eight seasons. Over the past four years he sports a cool 1.88 ERA. Yet for various reasons he has not won the award since 2014, which means that there are many NL aces worth considering betting on. Let's take a look at the best values below:
Clayton Kershaw, +160
It feels a little ridiculous to recommend a pick with such low odds. However, in theAmerican League edition of Cy Young picks I mentioned how it would take a once in a generation type player to bet on odds like this, and that's what we have here. From 2011-14 Kershaw won three of four possible Cy Young awards, led the league in ERA four times, WHIP four times, strikeouts twice, ERA+ three times, and hits per nine twice. In 2015 it took a historic second half from Jake Arrieta to rob Kershaw of a Cy Young three peat. Last season he was well on his way to winning the award before a back injury cost him nearly half his season. It's a shame because somehow Kershaw was having the best season of his career. Had he pitched enough innings to qualify his K/BB ratio would have been the best of all time. The +160 odds are terrible and you can probably get similar ones around mid-season but it feels like if Kershaw has another great season voters will be ready to reward him for the first time in three years.
Noah Syndergaard, +1000
Noah Syndergaard is the pick I would most recommend if betting on the NL Cy Young award. Over the past two seasons Thor has been establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball and now at 24 years old he is ready to cement his status with a Cy Young caliber campaign. The major storyline for Syndergaard this past off-season was the fact that he added 17 pounds of muscle in attempt to throw harder. It's tough to imagine he can average more than his league leading 98 mph fastball from 2016 but at such a young age he definitely has potential to improve his overall game. In 2016 Syndergaard led the National League in FIP and home runs allowed per nine while finishing third in ERA, fourth in strikeouts per nine, and eighth in walks per nine. The rate stats are all there so if he can improve on his 183 innings pitched the sky is the limit for the counting stats to be there as well.
Jacob DeGrom, +2500
The NL is so stacked with aces it's tough to come up with just three Cy Young picks. Madison Bumgarner is tempting but not at 10/1 and Stephen Strasburg is a perennial breakout candidate but has never finished higher than ninth in the Cy voting, so we are going to go with Jacob DeGrom at 25/1. This time last year DeGrom was at 10/1 but was coming off a monster 2015 workload that included a lot of extra innings form the Mets World Series run. Still DeGrom started last year on a tear, with a 2.61 ERA through his first 15 starts before trying to pitch through injuries that killed his end of season stats. Since he ended the year on such a down note his odds are better entering 2017 and people forget how good he was two years ago when he finished fourth in the NL in ERA and fifth in both WHIP and K/9. The reason for optimism centers around his improved velocity this spring. It was down even before he got hurt last year (possibly due to the 2015 workload) but so far this spring he is throwing as hard as ever, which makes his current gambling odds very tempting.