With the MLB season slowly approaching October, it means award talks have begun. The NL Cy Young race is shaping up to be as close as it gets. The favorite at the beginning of the year, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom, has been out for a longer period of time and that has opened the door for a new contender.
NL Cy Young Race 2021
Before his injury, deGrom would have been the sure favorite to win the NL Cy Young. In 15 starts, he had a 1.08 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 95 innings. It was a historic pace he was on before the elbow injury.
The ace of the Mets hasn’t pitched since July 7 and the latest report is he won’t begin throwing for another two weeks. For as great of a pace he was on, he may not hit the innings total needed to qualify for the Cy Young.
If deGrom does comeback and pitches even half as well as he did before, he still could be a favorite to win the NL Cy Young race. But for now, let’s look at five others that could take the honor.
Zack Wheeler has taken advantage of deGrom being out and shot up the Cy Young chart. He has racked up a 10-7 record with a 2.56 ERA, good for seventh-best in the league. The Philadelphia Phillies ace also leads the league in innings pitched, strikeouts and WAR (5.9).
What has been most impressive about Wheeler is he has three complete games on the year, which also leads the league. With those three complete games, two have been shutouts. The most earned runs he has allowed in a game is four. If Wheeler can continue this pace, not only could he bring the Phillies an NL East title, but also a Cy Young.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a stacked pitching staff, but leading the way is 27-year-old Buehler. He sports the best ERA in baseball with a 2.09 and has a very impressive 11-2 record. Only Wheeler has more innings pitched and a higher WAR than Walker Buehler.
He’s going to be one of a number of big reasons why the Dodgers are vying for another championship. He has become of the best, if not the best young pitcher in the MLB. It really looks like it’s a matter of when, not if Buehler wins a Cy Young. Could 2021 be that year?
Heading the dominant Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff is Brandon Woodruff. He has a 7-6 record, but a 2.18 ERA is the second-best in baseball. Woodruff’s 0.90 WHIP is second only to Max Scherzer, his 163 strikeouts ties him for sixth and 4.9 WAR is fourth-best among pitchers.
It appears as though Woodruff escaped injury in his last outing. He was pulled after just three innings against the Chicago Cubs, appearing to injure his leg on a line drive. But the team announced he has no such injury, which is a big sigh of relief for the Brewers.
Another elite pitcher from the Brewers, Corbin Burnes has been equally as good as Woodruff. He is third in ERA (2.23), third in strikeouts (172), first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.8) and fourth in WHIP (0.93).
As the stats show, Burnes has been a strikeout master this season. The only concern is that Burnes has already surpassed his career-high in innings pitched. Whether or not he can continue to dominate into October will remain to be seen. But if he can, between Burnes, Woodruff and Freddy Peralta, who also is in the Cy Young running, the Brewers will have one of the best rotations come playoff time.
The 30-year-old right hander has been a key reason why the Giants have exploded onto the scene this year and been one of the best teams in baseball.
He’s 11-5 with a 2.29 ERA in 23 starts with his ERA the fifth-best in the league. He was untouchable to start the season, going 7-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his first 12 starts. He has fallen back to Earth in his last 11 starts with a 3.62 ERA and is no longer a frontrunner, but he’s still considered in the NL Cy Young race. If he can finish the season the way he started, Gausman could potentially be looking at his first Cy Young.