The Duel

3 Dark Horse Candidates That Can Win the 2020 NL Cy Young Award

Mike Esposito
Dark-horse candidates for the 2020 NL Cy Young Award include New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
Dark-horse candidates for the 2020 NL Cy Young Award include New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard. / Mike Stobe/Getty Images
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New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom has had a stranglehold over the NL Cy Young Award over the last two seasons, but the usual suspects, like Max Scherzer, are always in the running to take home baseball's most-coveted award for a pitcher. However, there are a few pitchers that, with strong 2020 seasons, could make a run at the award.

With that in mind, here are three dark horse candidates, according to odds provided by FanDuel Sportsbook, that can win the 2020 NL Cy Young.

3. Zack Wheeler, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (+5000)

Zack Wheeler signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he has an outside shot at the 2020 NL Cy Young.
Zack Wheeler signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he has an outside shot at the 2020 NL Cy Young. / Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Zack Wheeler has been one of baseball's more underrated pitchers for several years now, but a strong 2020 campaign could finally vault him into the NL Cy Young conversation. The 29-year-old righty's 3.96 ERA from last season doesn't inspire too much confidence, but a deeper look at the numbers suggests he was pitching well. He suffered from a .311 average on balls in play (BABIP; well above his .300 career average) despite forcing a 19.3 percent soft-hit rate (No. 9 in the NL). He also checked in at ninth in the NL in fielding independent pitching (FIP; 3.48). Perhaps a change of scenery will help Wheeler take his game to a new level, and currently sitting outside the top 15 in the odds, he has a chance to make a run in 2020.

2. Sonny Gray, SP, Cincinnati Reds (+3500)

Sonny Gray had a fantastic season in 2019, making him a dark-horse Cy Young candidate.
Sonny Gray had a fantastic season in 2019, making him a dark-horse Cy Young candidate. / Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Sonny Gray proved the doubters wrong with an incredible bounce-back season. The 30-year-old righty was quietly one of the National League's best starters last year, going 11-8 with a 2.87 ERA and 205 strikeouts across 175 1/3 innings pitched. What's most impressive, however, is that he finished the year with a ridiculous .193 batting average against (No. 4 in MLB). Building on a career year is never easy, but if last season is any indication, Gray (+3500) could certainly find himself in the Cy Young conversation in 2020.

1. Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets (+2500)

Noah Syndergaard will be looking for a bounce-back 2020 campaign.
Noah Syndergaard will be looking for a bounce-back 2020 campaign. / Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Based on his .313 BABIP, which was the sixth-highest mark among qualified starters in the NL, Noah Syndergaard dealt with some tough luck in 2019. Notably, his ERA (4.28) was also much higher than his FIP (3.60). That 3.60 FIP was a top-12 mark among qualified NL starters, so there's plenty of reason to believe the New York Mets' pitcher could be poised for a bounce-back year. The 27-year-old righty still has some of the best stuff in the NL, allowing hard contact on just 28.9 percent of balls in play (No. 1 in the NL). He also struck out 202 batters in 197 2/3 innings pitched. Syndergaard is currently available at +2500, but he has a chance to give deGrom a run for his money this season.


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Mike Esposito is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Esposito also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username espo6891. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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