With the majority of pitchers now through at least 13 starts, it is time to take stock and look at who are the current Cy Young favorites. We have seen names like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke fall out of the running, due to injury or so so performances. However, many of the names we expected are still in the running. Let’s see which pitchers are in the race in each league.
Scherzer started the year as one of the favorites, and nothing he has done has changed that. Through 14 starts Scherzer has a 2.00 ERA and 13.50 strikeouts per nine. In addition, Scherzer is currently a league-leading 10-2, which always matters more than it should. Pitching for Washington will keep him in the running all season.
Despite the New York Mets doing everything in their power to suck in 2018, DeGrom has been really solid. Through 13 starts, he has a 1.57 ERA and 11.88 strikeouts per nine. The thing that might put him behind Scherzer is that he has just four wins on the season. It seems unfair to punish DeGrom because the Mets cannot provide him run support but that is often the way. The incredible thing is that despite the mediocrity of the Mets, DeGrom has been so good that he only has one loss on the season.
Nola has taken his game to the next level this season. In his 13 starts, he is 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA. Where Nola has struggled is with his strikeout rate which sits at just 8.54 strikeouts per nine. Health has always been an issue for Nola, but if he can stay healthy in 2018 he could have a real shot of pushing for the Cy Young award as part of this young Phillies team.
Corbin started the season at an incredible pace but he has cooled off a little as the season has worn on. It is interesting that with an ERA of 3.10 he is the only one of the five here with a FIP and xFIP below his ERA. Corbin has lacked run support this season, as evidenced by his 6-2 record. The Diamondbacks pitcher’s strikeout rate is up there with the elite at the position, 11.38 per nine. In addition, he has kept the walks down, 2.59 per nine. However, home runs could be his downfall as he is giving up 1.03 home runs per nine.
Had he not got injured then this would have been Noah Syndergaard. For lack of a better option right now Foltynewicz may well be the fifth option. He faces some tough competition for this spot from his teammate, Sean Newcomb, as well as Jon Lester and Miles Mikolas. However, the thing that separates Folty from the pack is his strikeout rate of 10.70 per nine. To pair with that strikeout rate he has a 2.31 ERA. His record of 5-4 must improve and 4.01 walks per nine do not fill me with confidence that he can continue being this good.
Verlander has been lights out again in 2018 with the Astros. His ERA sits at an incredible 1.45 after 14 starts, and it is unbelievable he is only 8-2. Verlander’s stuff has been incredible with 10.90 strikeouts per nine and just 1.93 walks per nine. His BABIP, left on base and home run to fly ball rates are all quite low. Expect to see a regression in some of those numbers which will push his ERA closer to his FIP and xFIP, 2.29 and 3.50 respectively.
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Severino has continued to break out for the Yankees in an incredible way, going from strength to strength as their ace. His 9-2 record and 2.27 ERA through 14 innings is beyond what anyone expected and a 2.25 FIP indicates those numbers are not a fluke. The stuff has been really good as well as he has 10.78 strikeouts per nine and 2.27 walks. Pitching in Yankee Stadium is incredibly tough, but being in the limelight will stand him in good stead for a Cy Young push.
When Cole was with the Pirates we knew he was good, but he never managed to live up to his potential. Well since coming to the Astros he has more than done that. 12.73 strikeouts per nine and a 2.16 ERA are numbers that the Astros could have only dreamed of when they traded for him. With a 7-1 record, he is going to push his veteran teammate all the way this season.
Finally, Trevor Bauer is putting his talent together and producing outstanding results. His control is not great with 3.03 walks per nine but he is striking out 11.41 batters per nine. His 2.62 ERA is by far the best of his major league career but it doesn’t feel like a fluke. As a former number three overall pick, he has always had the potential. Unfortunately, lack of control and tendencies to give up the long ball have cost him. He appears to have them both under control this season with career best numbers in both walks and home runs per nine. He will need to improve his record from 5-4 to have a real shot, especially considering what his teammate is doing.
Kluber suffers a little bit from just being the same as he always is. Kluber’s control is immaculate with 0.90 walks per nine but his strikeouts let him down compared to the other AL candidates. At just 9.30 strikeouts per nine, he is below all of the other contenders on this list. However, he does have an AL-leading 10-2 record and pairs that with a 1.99 ERA. Kluber needs to up the strikeouts if he is to have a real shot, but if he just stays solid then others may fall away and hand him the award again.
Due to the other numbers among the contenders being really good it feels like Sale is underachieving. He is not. His 2.83 ERA is below his career average and his best in the last four seasons. Sale’s 12.13 strikeouts per nine are second only to last season. His 2.22 walks per nine are one of the worst of his major league career and it almost seems unfair with that ERA and those strikeout numbers that his record is 5-4 after 14 starts. However, with the competition he is facing this year he desperately needs to step it up if he is to have a chance of winning the award.
The final word
It will shock no one that Scherzer, DeGrom, Verlander, Sale, and Kluber appear here. Scherzer and DeGrom are currently big favorites in the NL for me. Nola and Corbin could sneak in but they need to keep doing the unbelievable. Speaking of unbelievable the chances of Foltynewicz keeping this up are slim, but it is a fun story at least. In the AL I think the favorite is Cole because of the shock factor. However, Severino and Verlander and right there with him. Sale and Kluber will be around but their expectations are so high they have to go above and beyond to impress. As for Bauer, again I think he fades but it will certainly be fun to watch.