There is just over six weeks left of regular season baseball, meaning the chances for pitchers to prove themselves worthy of the Cy Young award is becoming less and less. The AL Cy Young features some expected stars in the running, but a few surprises as well.
AL Cy Young race 2021
The way things are shaping up, it’s going to be a first-timer who receives the AL Cy Young. Last year’s winner Shane Bieber has come back to Earth after his astounding 2020 campaign and 2019 winner Blake Snell is in the NL, not that he’d be contending for the Cy Young anyway.
It’s a chance for a new face to get hardware, but who will it be?
Here are the top five candidates in the AL Cy Young race 2021.
Leading the pack in the AL is Chicago White Sox stud Lance Lynn. He leads the AL in ERA with a 2.26, which is also tied for fourth-best in the league. In 21 starts, he has an impressive 10-3 record.
Lynn recently signed a two-year extension with the White Sox, keeping him on the South Side until at least the end of the 2023 season, with a team option in 2024. The hefty righty has been the best pitcher on the AL’s best pitching staff and if he continues like he has been, a Cy Young could be in his hands.
It comes as no surprise to see Gerrit Cole in the running for the Cy Young. In fact, with the New York Yankees paying him $324 million over nine years, you expect nothing less than Cy Young-worthy performances.
Cole is 11-6 in 24 starts so far this season. His 185 strikeouts is the second-most in baseball and the most in the AL. His 3.06 ERA doesn’t pop out quite as much as others, but a 0.97 WHIP and 4.2 WAR certainly does. With Cole back from the COVID list, the Yankees need his dominance every five days if they want to get into the playoffs.
Carlos Rodon has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, resulting in just nine starts combined in those two years. But he’s come out and had a career year with the White Sox in 2021.
The South Side southpaw is 9-5 with a 2.38 ERA. His 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings leads all the majors. His 0.96 WHIP puts in a category with just nine pitchers with a sub-1.00 WHIP on the year. He’s currently dealing with shoulder fatigue, but should be rejoining the White Sox staff soon. We’ll see if the injury impacts Rodon’s pitching and his chance at the AL Cy Young.
In Robbie Ray‘s seven years in the big leagues prior to this season, he had just one season with an ERA under 3.50. He was coming off his worst season since his rookie year in 2014.
Well Ray has figured things out north of the border with the Toronto Blue Jays. His 2.88 ERA is second in the AL, as he has a 9-5 record. Ray’s 167 strikeouts ranks fifth in all of baseball and second behind Cole in the AL. Ray has yet to give up more than four earned runs in an outing all year and has been a pleasant surprise for the Blue Jays, who are still in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.
His 12 wins is the most among AL pitchers and has him in a three-way tie for second in the MLB.
While he doesn’t have top marks in strikeouts, WAR or WHIP, sometimes there’s no denying wins. It’ll be hard for Bassitt at this point to get to the forefront of the Cy Young race, but he will most certainly receive top-5 votes.