Last year's NL Cy Young race was one of the most competitive in recent memory, with Trevor Bauer edging out Yu Darvish in a throwback to another time. In third place was Jacob deGrom, who enters this year as the clear favorite to win for the third time in four seasons.
Here are the odds to win the NL Cy Young Award and our three favorite preseason values on the board.
|Field - all others not list||+2500|
If Flaherty were entering this season after his record-setting 2019, we'd likely be talking about him as one of the four top candidates for this award, at worst. If a COVID-19 outbreak didn't derail the Cardinals' season in the middle of the year - Flaherty pitched well in his first start and his final starts - it'd be a similar story.
It's that middle part that hurt Flaherty, who logged a 6.45 ERA in a six-game stretch to balloon his overall numbers. Is that sample - during which he had to loosen up in a quarantined hotel room and once threw 85 pitches - more significant than when he posted a 0.93 ERA over his final 16 starts of 2019 and looked like a future superstar while doing so?
Flaherty's underlying numbers haven't changed all that much between the two years, especially if you remove a disastrous nine-run outing versus the Brewers. Don't let a chaotic 60-game sample distract you from top-end value.
Why is Burnes dealing at this price? All he did in 2020 was muster a stellar 2.11 ERA and 1.022 WHIP en route to a sixth-place finish in Cy Young voting, which sets him up for the ... 23rd-shortest price this year. Huh?
If you don't buy into Burnes' breakout, you might want to check again. The Brewers flamethrower had the stuff of an ace even back in 2019 when he had the worst ERA (8.82) and second-worst WHIP (1.837) of qualified NL starters. What he needed was a new arsenal, so he cut down on his ineffective four-seamer and leaned heavily into his sinker and cutter.
The results speak for themselves, and now he enters 2021 with an entire offseason to refine his new offerings with more job security, to boot. Burnes is a rising star, yet he's priced as an afterthought.
I'm a sucker for Gallen, who opened his career with a record-setting 23 consecutive starts allowing three or fewer runs. That level of consistency is a key reason he finished ninth in Cy Young voting in only his second season in the bigs - and it makes him a steal at this price.
What separates Gallen is his elite command of the strike zone. Despite sitting at 93 mph on his fastball, he ranked 11th last year in CSW% (31.6%) - a strong predictor of future strikeout potential - and ninth in first-pitch strike rate (64.9%). The Diamondbacks probably won't win many games, but if they do, it'll be because of their emerging ace.
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.