As the MLB regular season winds down, it is finally time to look at the race for the Cy Young awards. Across the league, there are multiple pitchers having tremendous seasons, but in my mind, there are two pitchers above the rest.
Before I get into the contenders for this season, let’s establish what good numbers look like in the MLB. I refer to Baseball-reference.com which states that the average earned run average (ERA) of a pitcher is 4.15. The average walks plus hits per inning (WHIP) is 1.304. Baseball-reference.com also states that a wins above replacement (WAR) above 8 is MVP level and a WAR above 5 is All-Star level.
Considering those parameters, I believe the National League Cy Young should be awarded to Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets. Across 31 games this season he holds a record of 9-9 with a 1.71 ERA. He has been “deGrominant” throughout the entire season. His 9-9 record does not do his pitching justice. He has turned in 24 consecutive quality starts, meaning he has pitched at least six innings and given up three or fewer runs in his last 24 games. On this season deGrom has turned in 29 quality starts in 32 games. If deGrom pitched for a better team or the Mets gave him the run support he deserves, I firmly believe that he could have had 25 wins this season. He has a glittering WHIP of 0.94 and his pitching WAR is an incredible 9.2. In 2016, Max Scherzer won the Cy Young behind a 0.968 WHIP and a 6.3 pitching WAR. There have been plenty of other pitchers who have had good years in the National League. Scherzer has been fantastic for the Nationals as usual and Aaron Nola has surprised many people as he put together a great season in Philadelphia. The only thing preventing deGrom from running away with the Cy Young award is his win total. Nine wins are not that impressive but that really isn’t his fault. The Mets just haven’t scored when deGrom is on the mound. In addition to that the bullpen has blown countless leads that he has given them. During his first 12 starts deGrom left the game when the Mets were either winning or tied and the Mets ended up losing the majority of those games. He has given his team a legitimate chance to win every time he is out there. If the Mets score when he is on the mound or the bullpen finishes what deGrom started, he wins twenty plus games and runs away with the National League Cy Young. Even without the help from his teammates I believe he wins by a large margin.
In the American League, multiple pitchers are making a case for the award. Red Sox lefty Chris Sale has been just as dominant as his previous seasons with a 12-4 record in 27 games, an ERA of 2.11 and a WAR of 6.7. He has struck out 237 batters and has a WHIP of 0.861. Two west coast relief pitchers have also made their case for Cy Young. Edwin Diaz of Seattle has shut down opponents in the 9th inning with 56 saves on the season. In the spirit of competition, Diaz waged a bet with Mariners manager Scott Servais. Servais bet Diaz that he would not achieve 50 saves on the season. When Diaz notched his 50th save, Servais was given Diaz’s signature haircut, a wave carved into the side of his head. In addition to 50 saves Diaz has an ERA of just under 2, a WHIP of 0.788 and a WAR of 3.1. Just south of Diaz in the Bay Area, Oakland A’s closer Blake Treinen has been one of this season’s biggest surprises. Treinen has collected 37 saves in 2018 along with an ERA of 0.79 and a WHIP of 0.832. He has anchored the bullpen of an A’s team that no one expected to even be remotely close to the playoffs. He also has a WAR of 4.2, which is tremendously high for a relief pitcher. Even with the fantastic numbers put up by the pitchers I stated above, I believe that the AL Cy Young will be a competition between Corey Kluber and Blake Snell. Corey Kluber has shown why he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past few years again this season. He has posted an ERA of 2.83, a WHIP of 0.971, and a WAR of 5.9. He has pitched in 32 games and has a 20-7 record. He will spearhead the Cleveland rotation in the postseason again after playoff runs the past two seasons. Even with those fantastic numbers, I believe that the reigning Cy Young cannot match up with Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell. The third-year pitcher has the most wins in the AL with 21, the lowest ERA of a starting pitcher at 1.9 and the highest WAR for an AL starter at 7.1 along with a WHIP of 0.962. Snell has also played in the best division in baseball this season. He has beaten every AL playoff team at least once and the Rays are 9-3 in games against AL playoff teams that Snell has started.
It has been a crazy year once again in the MLB with lots of pitchers performing at an extremely high level. Considering all the numbers stated above, I believe two pitchers have stood out from the rest and the Cy Young should be easy to award.
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
AL Cy Young: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays