1. The AL Cy Young race is … complicated
As I’m sure you’re aware, Chris Sale just struck out his 300th batter this season, becoming just the 16th player to achieve that mark and marking the 35th time a player has done so. It’s also the first time since Pedro Martinez in 1999 that an American League pitcher has thrown 300 Ks, making it particularly impressive. Surely, such a dominant performance should be rewarded with the Cy Young award, right?
Well, no. Corey Kluber has also had one hell of a season, and strikeouts aren’t everything. When you go through the stats, it’s like a particularly long and difficult round of Top Trumps. Kluber leads in ERA (2.35 to 2.75), but Sale leads in strikeouts (300 to 252). They’re tied on wins at 17. Depending who you ask, either one could be ahead on Wins-Above-Replacement (WAR). Usually, when the stats don’t immediately separate the frontrunners, narrative proves decisive. But that’s not overly helpful here, either. Sale’s got the history of the 300 strikeouts, but Kluber is the leader of a team that just went on a record-breaking 22-game winning streak and now leads the AL standings.
Betting Tip: Kluber has a slight, razor-thin advantage in stats. At the start of the month, our top-rated sportsbook Bovada, had Sale as the favorite at 1/3, with Kluber at 4/1. Hopefully you jumped on the Cleveland ace back then because, if you didn’t, you won’t get him at those odds anymore. Still, if you can bet on Kluber at anything better than even money, do so. This is, at worst, a coin flip. It’s all going to depend on what the voting body — which changes from year to year — values more.
2. These NFL injuries just won’t stop
*Takes a deep breath*
Jordy Nelson is back with the Packers. Jason Spriggs is not. Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin left the Rams/49ers game with suspected concussions. Danny Amendola, Stephon Gilmore, and Dont’a Hightower were limited in practice for the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski practised on Wednesday but not on Thursday. Demarco Murray didn’t practice. Melvin Gordon was limited. Jaelen Strong’s family found his passport but he’s staying stateside because of a hamstring injury. Odell Beckham and Evan Engram were limited in practice, and Bobby Hart, B.J. Goodson, and Janoris Jenkins sat out.
Betting Tip: Of these, Odell Beckham and the entire New England Patriots roster seem to be most important. The Giants are underdogs (+6) against the Eagles this weekend; I don’t see how they cover without Odell reinvigorating a heretofore deplorable offense. The Pats are huge favorites (-14) against a very tough Texans team (er, defense) that loves a low-scoring, ugly game. Don’t go crazy and take rookie Deshaun Watson and the Texans’ moneyline, but do consider Houston +14, especially after the trouble this defense caused Tom Brady in the playoffs last year.