Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

Future Bets - Post-AS Break

The American League won their 7th consecutive All-Star game on Tuesday night, as the 4-3 victory turned into a bit more of a sweat then it probably needed to be, but the end result was still the right one for Cleveland's home crowd. It's a good thing home field advantage in the World Series isn't on the line any more in the summer showcase, and with the All-Star festivities done and over with now, it really is time for baseball bettors to start shifting their attention to what we could see during October baseball.

So while there are still 48 hours with essentially no daily baseball to concern ourselves with, this is a great time to take stock of what futures (season win totals, division winners etc) you've already got in your pocket, and what potential futures options are out there currently to invest in the rest of the way. It's the latter that I'm choosing to focus on in this piece, as there are two futures that I can't pass up for the rest of the year.

MLB Futures Bet #1: Hyun-Jin Ryu to win NL Cy Young (+160)

According to the current odds, this is basically a two-horse race between Ryu and Max Scherzer, with the latter listed as the heavy favorite to win is fourth career Cy Young award at a -200 price tag. There is no denying that Scherzer has been downright dominant for the Nationals this year and has been a big part of their resurgence with the best record in MLB since late May, but I'm not sure he'll have enough to take this thing all the way to the finish line.

I say that because, while Cy Young voting has gone away from the whole “winning” aspect in regards to one's team success – and rightfully so – if this does come down to a Ryu vs Scherzer argument in the end, most voters won't be able to completely ignore the respective records of the Dodgers – likely a runaway winner in the NL West – and Nationals – likely a team that doesn't find it's way to playing October baseball. Leading the league in strikeouts is always great and will be what Scherzer supporters fall back on to a degree, but if Ryu stays healthy and the Dodgers keep rolling, he probably gets put over the top here.

Now, there is a case to be made that Ryu gets somewhat overshadowed by all the phenomenal pitchers the Dodgers have, as Walker Buehler (+1200) and Clayton Kershaw (+2800) are among the leaders to win this award as well. To have that type of depth on a pitching staff does take away the individual dominance of any one guy – another pro-Scherzer support case – but to be the best of the bunch like Ryu has been all year speaks volumes as well. To get to the All-Star break as the only starter with a sub-2.00 ERA is saying something, and if that continues, Ryu will get plenty of support as well.

Finally, while it's not a huge edge by any means, the fact that Ryu was named the All-Star game starter for the NL bodes well for him historically in this case as well. Over the past 20 years (starting with 1999 All-Star game), 12 of the 40 All-Star game starters have gone on to win the Cy Young award that year, including Scherzer doing it twice himself. And if you take away the 2001 year where both All-Star starters – Roger Clemons and Randy Johnson won the respective Cy Youngs – of those other 10 pitchers to claim the award after starting the Mid-Summer Classic, six of those 10 times actually saw said starter's league fall in the All-Star game. With the NL losing on Tuesday night, there is another 60% historical piece of data favoring Ryu's chances.

So with the price what it is at +160, there is quite a bit of inherent value in backing Ryu to win this award right now, as long as he stays healthy. His career has not been one to see him pitch full campaigns often, but everything has been working so well for him in 2019, that maybe this is a season that's simply “lightning in a bottle” for Ryu and pays it off with a Cy Young trophy at the end of it. At +160 odds, I'm willing to back him to find out.

MLB Futures Bet #2: Cleveland Indians to win AL Central (+800)

Like Scherzer's Washington Nationals team, the Cleveland Indians have been one of the best in baseball over the past six weeks or so, and what was once a huge deficit to Minnesota in the AL Central has transformed into just a 5.5 game deficit at the break for Cleveland.

And after hosting the league this week for the All-Star break, Indians fans know that it would be phenomenal for their team to build off that energy when regular season action resumes on Friday. That's because Cleveland starts a 10-game homestand that begins with three against those aforementioned Twins before hosting the dregs of the division in Detroit (four games) and Kansas City (three games). Even after that it's a seven-game road trip for the team against Toronto and Kansas City, and a schedule like that is really conducive to piling up the victories.

Given that schedule, we could see a scenario where Cleveland overtakes Minnesota – a team that's played well over their heads in the first half in my opinion – by the end of the month, as it's the first half of August where things really get tough for Cleveland – series against Houston, LAA, Texas, Minnesota, Boston and the Yankees. Trailing by too many games then could be too much to overcome for Cleveland, even with 13 games from now until the end of the year against Minnesota.

But tread water during that tough stretch, or even come out ahead, will put Cleveland in a great position to close out the year strong as they've still got plenty of games against non-playoff contenders the rest of the way. They've got to be able to grab the division lead by early September if this wager with tremendous odds is to cash, because Minnesota's final 13 games of the year come against the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers, and the Twins will be heavily favored to win the bulk of those. Yet, that stretch is also part of 16 straight games to end the year against division rivals for Minnesota, and if there is regression coming for the Twins, finishing the year against rivals who would love to play spoiler – no matter how bad they are – could end up being to taxing as well.

At 8-1 odds for the Indians to be the tortoise in this race and come out on top is definitely loaded with value, especially when it could be a matter of just a few weeks before Cleveland ends up on top of the division.

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