A little over six weeks into the 2021 MLB season, the Cy Young race is largely playing out as expected. Gerrit Cole and Shane Bieber are dominating the American League, with Cole's immaculate 78-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio giving him the edge, and Jacob deGrom was running away with the National League title before an injury setback.
That last part is key. We're barely a quarter of the way through the season; injuries - or a string of bad starts - could easily derail a Cy Young front-runner and blow the race wide open. That's what makes long shots so appealing in a market this volatile.
Fortunately, this year's field is full of compelling arms at long odds. Here are the updated Cy Young odds for both leagues, along with five pitchers worth betting at their current price:
|AL CY YOUNG||ODDS||NL CY YOUNG||ODDS|
|Gerrit Cole||Even||Jacob deGrom||-125|
|Shane Bieber||+430||Corbin Burnes||+450|
|Tyler Glasnow||+600||Max Scherzer||+1600|
|Carlos Rodon||+1500||Trevor Bauer||+1600|
|John Means||+1500||Brandon Woodruff||+1800|
|Lance Lynn||+1500||Jack Flaherty||+1800|
|Hyun Jin Ryu||+3500||Yu Darvish||+1800|
|Danny Duffy||+4000||Walker Buehler||+2500|
|Dylan Cease||+4000||Aaron Nola||+3000|
|Jose Berrios||+5000||Clayton Kershaw||+3000|
|Lance McCullers Jr.||+5000||Zack Wheeler||+3000|
|Cristian Javier||+5500||Trevor Rogers||+3500|
|Shohei Ohtani||+5500||Sandy Alcantara||+4500|
|Aaron Civale||+6000||Alex Wood||+5000|
|Kyle Gibson||+6000||Freddy Peralta||+5000|
|Lucas Giolito||+6000||Julio Urias||+5000|
|Nathan Eovaldi||+6000||Taijuan Walker||+5000|
|Aroldis Chapman||+6500||Ian Anderson||+5500|
|Corey Kluber||+6500||Joe Musgrove||+6000|
|Zach Plesac||+6500||Kevin Gausman||+6000|
|Brady Singer||+7000||Zac Gallen||+6000|
|Eduardo Rodriguez||+7000||Marcus Stroman||+7000|
|Sean Manaea||+7000||Blake Snell||+8000|
|Chris Bassitt||+8000||Josh Hader||+8000|
|Domingo German||+8000||Sonny Gray||+8000|
|Dylan Bundy||+8000||Stephen Strasburg||+8000|
|Frankie Montas||+8000||Pablo Lopez||+9000|
|Kenta Maeda||+8000||Carlos Carrasco||+10000|
|Liam Hendriks||+8000||Charlie Morton||+10000|
|Matthew Boyd||+8000||Chris Paddack||+10000|
|Zack Greinke||+8000||Dinelson Lamet||+10000|
|Andrew Heaney||+10000||Edwin Diaz||+10000|
|Casey Mize||+10000||German Marquez||+10000|
|Chris Sale||+10000||Jake Arrieta||+10000|
|Dallas Keuchel||+10000||Jon Gray||+10000|
|Deivi Garcia||+10000||Kwang-hyun Kim||+10000|
|Framber Valdez||+10000||Kyle Hendricks||+10000|
|Griffin Canning||+10000||Luis Castillo||+10000|
|Jameson Taillon||+10000||Max Fried||+10000|
|Jesus Luzardo||+10000||Michael Soroka||+10000|
|Jordan Montgomery||+10000||Noah Syndergaard||+10000|
|Jose Urquidy||+10000||Patrick Corbin||+10000|
|Justin Dunn||+10000||Sixto Sanchez||+10000|
Rogers entered 2021 as a potential breakout candidate after his expected stats in his 2020 rookie season told a far different story than his 6.11 ERA. The breakout happened, and it's time to start paying attention.
The Marlins standout boasts a 1.84 ERA - fifth-best among qualified starters - with a top-10 strikeout rate (32.6%) thanks to a lively fastball and two elite breaking pitches that have baffled hitters thus far. The advanced stats back it up: Rogers ranks in the 85th percentile in virtually every metric, suggesting the 23-year-old might be able to keep this up all season. If he does, this is a steal.
We've known Cease had this in him since his time as a top prospect with the Cubs; his recent string of success with the White Sox is much less a fluke and more a realization of the potential he's always shown.
The 25-year-old righty flashed that potential in his fifth and sixth starts of the season, during which he threw a combined 13 shutout innings with 20 strikeouts and just four baserunners allowed. Cease is finally generating the whiffs his stuff has teased, making this an attractive price if he maintains his current trajectory.
Don't look now, but Peralta is finally ascending to the upper tier of MLB starters after two years of mixed results out of the 'pen. The Brewers moved their 24-year-old arm into the rotation this year and have reaped the rewards of a fastball-slider combo that has generated 65 strikeouts through nine games.
Peralta's strikeout rate (39.2%) ranks third behind only those of deGrom and Cole, and his 2.69 FIP checks in at ninth ahead of Tyler Glasnow's (2.80) and Bieber's (2.83). The former reliever is pitching like the best starters in the game, and this price doesn't reflect that in the slightest.
What more does Musgrove need to do to get some respect in this market? Not only did he throw the first no-hitter of the season - and first in Padres history - but he still ranks sixth in xFIP (2.71) and SIERA (2.79) and has struck out a third of the batters he's faced, good for ninth in the majors.
Two lackluster starts in early May have tempered expectations, but the 28-year-old has allowed a combined five runs in his other six starts and is still showing the strike-throwing potential that made him unhittable early on. Don't let the last few weeks distract you from the bigger picture, especially at this price.
Unlike the other four players on this list, Castillo hasn't looked anything like a Cy Young pitcher this season. In fact, the Reds starter has been the furthest thing from one: His 7.71 ERA is the worst of any pitcher with at least 30 innings, and he's struck out a paltry 16.3% of batters faced to rank in the bottom 10.
But Castillo has also made eight starts in what will presumably be a 30-start campaign, and he's been a notoriously slow starter over his MLB career. His 4.62 ERA from March through June pales in comparison to his 3.37 ERA from July and beyond, which should inspire some hope after the 28-year-old's rough start to 2020.
Castillo is by far the most talented pitcher in this price range, and he could return to looking like the All-Star he is in any one of his next starts. If he does, you'll regret passing up these odds.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.