Walker Buehler now odds-on favorite to win NL Cy Young Award
Jacob deGrom appeared to have the 2021 NL Cy Young Award sewn up in the first half, but injuries derailed his season for the New York Mets. That left the race for the coveted trophy up for grabs, or so it seemed.
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Walker Buehler has risen steadily in the NL Cy Young rankings, assuming the favorite’s role at -112 after being +3300 just before the All-Star break. Let’s investigate the reasons for the dramatic movement in Buehler’s odds, and determine if he’s worth a wager or not.
National League Cy Young 2021
Sun, October 3 2021, 5:00 PM
Buehler keeps compiling quality starts
Buehler has been machine-like for the Dodgers since the start of July, compiling 10 straight quality starts. He’s put together three straight months with an ERA below 2.00.
Walker Buehler vs. SD (8/25):— hashim (@___hash___) August 31, 2021
vs. RHH: 4SFB glove side through zone, SL glove side low, SNK arm side low, CUT low & away
vs. LHH: 4SFB arm side through zone, CUT glove side on edges, KC low, CH-SNK arm side
3/4 with 4SFB-KC. Lowers slot with CUT-SL-CH. Slightly lower with SNK. pic.twitter.com/idUP6FLUqX
The Kentucky native is tops in the NL by ERA at 2.05, and is second in WHIP (0.915) to newly-minted teammate Max Scherzer (0.863). He’s also just a shade behind Philadelphia Phillies ace Zack Wheeler in pitching WAR (6.0 to 5.9).
Buehler faces tough last few assignments
September is unlikely to be a walk in the park for Buehler based on the Dodgers’ upcoming schedule.
He’s slated to face the San Francisco Giants – who are currently neck-and-neck with his club for the NL West crown – on Sunday night. Assuming no injuries or weather-related postponements, Buehler will take on Fernando Tatis Jr. and the San Diego Padres twice more this season, and will also be subjected to a start at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies.
Interestingly, if the Dodgers have something to play for on the last day of the season, Buehler would most likely be called upon to face the Milwaukee Brewers, who boast the current second-choice in the Cy Young market.
Corbin Burnes can catch Buehler
Brewers rising star Corbin Burnes is a clear-cut second choice at +175, and the only pitcher who can realistically beat Buehler at this point. His odds are just tempting enough to take a flyer on.
Burnes lost a little steam after his historic strikeout streak to start the 2021 campaign, but is coming on strong again. The California native just wrapped up a solid month of August, in which he authored a 1.64 ERA and 0.818 WHIP.
He compares favorably to Buehler in both ERA (trailing 2.05 to 2.27) and WHIP (trailing 0.915 to 0.935), but has the Dodgers’ ace beaten soundly in FIP. Burnes is the runaway leader in that department at 1.85, while Buehler is fifth at 3.10.
Burnes is slated to face the St. Louis Cardinals – a team he’s produced a 0.53 ERA against this year (17 innings) – three more times before the season ends. He’ll also take on the lackluster Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs offenses if things go off without a hitch, before potentially facing Buehler and the Dodgers in Game 162, which may decide the Cy Young vote.