The National League's Cy Young Award is meant to recognize the most outstanding pitcher in the league's regular season. Commonly, the award goes to a starter, however, it is possible for a reliever to win it. Heading into the All-Star break, the clear favorite for the award has to be judged as Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw improved to 14-2 on Sunday

Heading into Sunday, Kershaw was 13-2 in the season. However, he was the pitcher of record in the Dodgers' 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. The complete-game victory improved him to 14-2 on the season.

The All-Star break marks just passed the half-way point of the entire season. 14 wins heading into the break would project a 25+ win season over the long haul.

With wins a major criterion for the Cy Young award, it's hard to look passed Kershaw in the Cy Young debate. He has three more wins than Zach Greinke and a far more superior winning percentage (Greinke is 11-4). Furthermore, Kershaw has nearly the best ERA in the NL when a 90-inning-minimum criterion is used.

Kershaw's ERA is 2.18 which is slightly behind that of Washington's Max Scherzer who is at 2.10. The difference is hair splitting, but Scherzer doesn't have the wins or the winning percentage that Kershaw has. The Washington National ace is 10-5 in the season and has to be considered the second favorite for the Cy Young at this point.

Betting odds examined for the National League's CY Young

Kershaw followed by Scherzer is in total agreement with the betting odds for the Cy Young ante post at this point. William Hill Sportsbook makes Kershaw -125 (4 to 5) to win the Cy Young Award. Scherzer is at +120 (6 to 5), making him the second favorite. Greinke enters the picture as the third favorite at very low odds with +1400 (14 to 1).

Peripheral contenders, according to William Hill's betting odds, are Alex Wood and Robbie Ray. The former is priced at +2000 (20 to 1) while the latter is priced at +3300 (33 to 1). Ray is 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA while Alex Wood is 10-0 with an ERA of 1.69.

The latter pitcher, Wood, has to be considered the dark horse for the award.

With a 1.69 ERA in about 80 innings of work, he certainly has pitched exceptionally well. His 10-0 record is the best winning percentage of the contenders. Playing for the Dodgers, he could have a very strong second half of the season. If he can keep his losses minimal, it will be interesting to see how the voting trends go at season's end.

Of course, all of the pitchers that are favorites for the Cy Young are playing with contenders. There's a circularity to that as each pitcher has helped make their team a contender. However, a pitcher with a good supporting cast has helped to rack up the wins, even on off nights, and that is important as run support from the batting lineup is a big part of getting a strong record.