Tuesday was not a good day for two of the top American League Cy Young Award candidates, including heavy favorite Justin Verlander. He hit the injured list with a calf strain, while third choice Shane McClanahan was scratched from his start after experiencing some sort of discomfort while warming up in the bullpen.
Verlander was predominantly in the -200 range to win the award when sportsbooks like DraftKings and BetMGM pulled down the odds in light of his injury status. Verlander could have been on his way to a signature Cy Young moment two starts ago when he was pulled after six no-hit innings. He only lasted three innings in his last start on August 28 before leaving the game. Astros GM James Click said that the team’s “hope and expectation is that this should be relatively short-term”.
Many wondered if the Verlander IL stint would open the door for somebody else, but one of the closest competitors is now out indefinitely. Bally Sports Sun posted a clip at the end of McClanahan’s warmup in which the Rays’ ace gets very emotional about whatever transpired and walks off solemnly to be checked by the training staff. It was reported shortly after that McClanahan’s warmup was cut short by a “left shoulder impingement”.
The odds for “Yes/No To Make the Playoffs” were taken down prior to tonight’s games, but you have to think that Tampa Bay’s odds will either stay off the board or be adjusted towards the No until we get some clarification on McClanahan, who was in the + 450 range at some books after Verlander went down. He was around 10/1 prior to that, well behind Dylan Cease, who was around + 300.
The Rays entered play on Tuesday with the best record of non-division leaders at 70-57, a half-game ahead of the Mariners, a game ahead of the Blue Jays and three games ahead of the Orioles, who are just outside the cut line. Tampa Bay was a heavy favorite to make the playoffs, but the loss of McClanahan could change that.
Verlander will remain the tentative favorite for now, but Cease, who has only allowed 15 earned runs since June 1 over 93.1 innings, will have a compelling case if he keeps pitching well and if Verlander does not return. Other contenders in light of McClanahan’s injury are Shohei Ohtani and Kevin Gausman, who were well off the pace prior to the developments of the last few days.