2024 Cy Young Value Picks

4 Early Cy Young Sleeper Candidates: A New Jose Berrios?

Betting on preseason Cy Young odds is fun. But, waiting a few turns through a rotation is actually the smarter way to go about it, in my opinion.

About this time in the MLB season is when we start to get an idea of who guys are — what changes worked and who took a step forward. So, with that in mind, here are four AL and NL Cy Young value picks I like so far this year:

Jose Berrios (+2800)

As my co-host Ethan Diamandas said on our X Spaces show 3 True Outcomes earlier this week, Berríos has always been seen as steady but has never really been in that Cy Young conversation. The righty has gotten Cy votes just once (9th place in 2021), despite striking out over 190 batters three times and posting sub-4 ERAs basically every year of his career.

In the early goings of 2024, it seems like the Blue Jays righty has found a new level, rocking a 1.05 ERA through 25.2 innings. The strikeout rates may not be elite, but Berríos's new-found ability to pitch in to lefties may take his game up a notch.

For his career, lefties hit Berríos to a .759 OPS (nearly 100 points higher than righties). But in 2024, they have just a .065 average and .212 OPS against him. If he can keep lefties down, Berríos could post the low-twos ERA he’d need to compete for the AL Cy. And for a Blue Jays team that's had questionable performances from the rest of the rotation, he's become a key to any World Series hopes Toronto has, too.

Royals SP Brady Singer (+5500)

Singer honestly reminds me of a younger Berríos. He’s been mainly a sinker/slider guy who has solid but unspectacular numbers, until 2024.

So far this year, the Royals righty has a 0.98 ERA in his first three starts with peripherals to back it up. He’s walking fewer batters than ever before while upping his whiff, chase, and strikeout rates above league average. He’ll need solid defense behind him, but Singer is another guy who could go out and post a great ERA. If he can also stay healthy, haul innings, and pass 200 strikeouts, he’s got a Cy Young case.

Reds SP Hunter Greene (+5000)

You may be looking at Greene’s current 4.86 ERA and saying he looks like the exact same pitcher he’s been the least two years. But, if you lift up the hood there’s a lot to be excited about.

The Reds righty has always been able to throw hard and get swing-and-miss, but allowed a lot of loud contact when he was hit. This year, Greene’s been missing barrels like a legit ace. His hard contact numbers have all gone from bad to great, making his expected ERA way down at 2.49 to start the year — one of the best in baseball.

Avg Exit Velo90.186.1
Barrel Rate9.0%4.9%
Expected Batting Avg.216.170

If those hold and Greene keeps striking out the world, I like his chances to win the NL Cy as a value pick.

Twins SP Joe Ryan (+1300)

Joe Ryan has been my guy the last few seasons, and he really seems to breaking out in a big way in 2024.

Through three starts, Ryan has allowed just five total earned runs and two walks while striking out 24 batters (in 17.1 innings). That's pretty similar stuff to Hunter Greene, with lower walk rates and a more forgiving home park. With his four-pitch mix, Ryan is one of the best in baseball at inducing whiffs. And that’s kind of the name of the game in 2024 baseball — if you keep the ball from entering play, you’re gonna get a lot of outs and have some pretty sweet FIP and expected ERA numbers.

Ryan’s early 2024 success has only come against AL Central foes, though. So, let’s see if these low run totals and high strikeout rates hold against the other divisions.

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