The baseball season isn't too far away, making this a great time to get in some MLB betting via the robust futures market at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Today, we're going to dive into the National League Cy Young Award. Let's see if we can pick out a winner.
Aaron Nola, Phillies (+1300)
Aaron Nola finished fourth in last year's NL Cy Young voting, and I like taking a stab at him to win it this year at this +1300 number, which prices him as the seventh favorite.
The 2022 campaign was an excellent one for Nola. The Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander posted career-best marks in SIERA (2.80), fWAR (6.3) and walk rate (3.6%). His 29.1% strikeout rate and 32.4% called-plus-swinging-strike percentage (CSW%) were close to career-high clips, as well.
It feels like Nola has been around forever, and he does have a tick more than seven years of service time. But he's also heading into just his age-30 season, so there's a chance he could take even another step forward in 2023.
Despite the top-shelf peripherals last season, Nola finished with a blah 11-13 record, although the fact he still got fourth in the Cy Young voting despite the middling win-loss record tells you how much better the voting process has gotten.
However, narratives can still matter in these award races, and Nola will be pitching in an NL East Division that should be in the headlines all year thanks to the stout trio of the Phillies, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves. If Nola puts up elite numbers once more and does so for a Philly squad that's in an NL East title chase, it could aid his Cy Young chances.
Projections are certainly on board with Nola this season. ZiPS forecasts him to be second in WAR (4.6) among all NL pitchers and third in FIP (3.03) among NL starters. Steamer has him third in WAR (4.1) and sixth in FIP (3.34).
I think Nola's price as the seventh-best favorite is selling him just a bit short.
Julio Urias, Dodgers (+2000)
Speaking of guys who have been around a while but aren't that old, Julio Urias fits the bill.
Urias has slightly more than five years of service time under his belt, and he's entering only his age-27 season.
A former mega prospect, Urias has been a quality pitcher for the past two years, recording SIERAs of 3.64 and 3.66. The training wheels are mostly off as he's thrown at least 175 innings in each of those two seasons, and while his overall numbers fall in the very-good-but-not-elite range, there's every chance that Urias can make a leap in 2023 as he enters his prime.
With Walker Buehler injured, Clayton Kershaw getting old and all of Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, and Trevor Bauer gone, the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to be relying heavily on the left arm of Urias in 2023. Kershaw may get the Opening Day nod and has earned the right to be called the Dodgers' ace, but Urias will likely be LA's true number one. Being the top dog for one of the game's best teams is always good for award voting.
ZiPS has Urias pegged to amass the eighth-most WAR (4.0) among NL pitchers and 13th-best FIP (3.44) among NL starters. The +2000 price is worth a roll of the dice.
Brandon Woodruff, Brewers (+2000)
Brandon Woodruff isn't even the best pitcher on the Milwaukee Brewers -- that title belongs to Corbin Burnes, who is tied with Sandy Alcantara as the preseason favorite for this award at a price of +500. But I like the value on Woodruff at this +2000 number.
Woodruff is really good. He missed a little time last year due to injury, tossing only 153 1/3 innings, but it was arguably his best season. He set career-best clips in SIERA (3.03), swinging-strike rate (14.1%) and CSW% (31.0).
In 2023, he'll benefit from an NL Central that has three bad offenses in it. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds all project to be in the bottom seven in runs per game among all teams, per FanGraphs.
And if you want to take a stroll down narrative street, this is Woodruff's contract year, and another elite season from him will likely result in a massive payday this winter.
Projection models are expecting Woodruff to be one of the NL's best arms in 2023. ZiPS has him third in WAR (4.0) among NL pitchers and second in FIP (2.97) among NL starters. Steamer isn't quite as bullish, slotting Woodruff eighth in FIP among starters and ninth in WAR.
All in all, he's got a better shot to win the NL Cy Young than this +2000 price implies.