MLB: AL, NL Cy Young award race heating up as season closes

Every season, Major League Baseball crowns the best pitcher in the American and National Leagues with the coveted Cy Young award. Similar to the MVP race in both leagues this season, the Cy Young race is also immensely competitive.

In the National League (NL), a longtime veteran ace is leading headlines to add on to his storied career. In 2021, three-time Cy Young Award winner and Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitcher Max Scherzer is dominating NL hitters once again. Scherzer, who is in his age-37 season, is aiming to win his fourth Cy Young which would be his third as a NL pitcher (2016, 2017). As of Sept. 24, he leads all of baseball with a 2.28 earned run average (ERA) and a 0.83 walks-hits-per-innings- pitched (WHIP).

On the year, Scherzer has 15 wins to coincide with 232 strikeouts, which both rank within the top four in the entire MLB. Scherzer started off his season with the Washington Nationals, the team that he spent seven years with after signing a seven-year $210 million contract before the 2015 season. Since being traded to the Dodgers on the July 30 trade deadline, Scherzer is 7-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 10 games started, which translates to only 10 earned runs allowed in 63 innings pitched. Vegas Insider currently has the 14-year veteran favored to win the NL Cy Young award at a -170 odds.

Scherzer is not the only Los Angeles pitcher to be thrown into the conversation for the NL Cy Young. Dodgers 2020 World Series hero Walker Buehler is throwing yet another elite season as a starting pitcher. Buehler currently has a 14-4 win-loss record with a 2.58 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and 196 strikeouts in 195.2 innings pitched. Buehler’s ERA and WHIP each rank fourth in both the NL and all of baseball, to go along with 5.7 wins-above- replacement (WAR) that ranks third among NL pitchers. This campaign so far puts Buehler at +1500 odds to win the award for the NL.

To compete with the two forces from the city of angels, Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes is putting together a career year. Burnes, who was named to his first All-Star team this season, is 10-4 with a 2.34 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. His ERA and WHIP trail only Scherzer for the MLB lead, while his 221 strikeouts rank third in the NL. Burnes is currently leading the MLB in strikeouts-per-walk (SO/BB) with 6.9, as he has only walked 32 hitters to coincide with the 221 strikeouts.

After finishing sixth in NL Cy Young voting in 2020, Burnes is looking to take home his first in 2021. His odds to win the award are currently at +110, second only to Scherzer.

On the east coast of the National League, Philadelphia Phillies ace Zack Wheeler is proving why he was signed to a five-year $118 million contract in Dec. 2019. Building off a solid 2020, Wheeler

has been nothing short of dominant this year. In 31 starts, he is 14-9 with an MLB- leading 240 strikeouts to correspond with the fifth best ERA (2.79) and WHIP (1.02) in the NL. Wheeler has the most pitching WAR in 2021 with 7.3 to go along with the most complete games (three) and most complete-game-shutouts (two) thrown in the league. Wheeler is sitting with the fourth best odds in the NL to win the award at +2800.

For the American League (AL), a pair of AL East rivals are battling it out to win the Cy Young. After signing a one- year $8 million contract prior to the 2021 season, Toronto Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray is making a case for bargain of the year. Ray is currently 12-4 on the season, all while leading the AL with a 2.72 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 238 strikeouts. His 6.8 pitching WAR leads all of the AL and is second in the MLB trailing only Wheeler.

Ray is favored to win the AL Cy Young Award, sitting at -190 odds.

The Blue Jays division rival, the New York Yankees, also have a contender for the Cy Young. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who finished fourth in the 2020 AL Cy Young vote, has an AL-leading 16 wins and is second in the AL in WHIP with 1.04. Cole’s 237 strikeouts this year trail only Ray and Wheeler for the MLB lead and his 5.8 WAR trails only Ray’s 6.8 for the AL lead. Cole is second in the AL for odds to win the award at +160.

Just like the Dodgers, the Chicago White Sox have multiple candidates for the Cy Young awards. In his first year since being traded to Chicago from the Texas Rangers on Dec. 8, 2020, White Sox starter Lance Lynn has been exceptional. In 26 starts this season, Lynn is 10-5 with a 2.47 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 166 strikeouts. Although his ERA does not qualify for the league lead (must pitch 162 innings, Lynn has pitched 146), it should not be underlooked. Lynn currently has 5.2 WAR, putting him third in the AL in that statistic to help bring him to +1200 odds to win the Cy Young.

Lynn’s teammate, Carlos Rodon, has also put together a Cy-Young worthy season. In 23 starts, Rodon is 12-5 with a 2.47 ERA, 187 strikeouts and a 0.971 WHIP. Rodon has found himself in the same boat as Lynn, since he cannot qualify for the league leads in WHIP and ERA with only 127.2 innings pitched.

Despite this however, Rodon’s breakout season allowed him to attend his first All- Star game and has put him at +5000 odds to win the AL Cy Young award.

With only a handful of starts left for these players, they will have a limited amount of time to put their case together to be named the best pitcher in the league. All statistics were acquired from ESPN and all betting odds were acquired from Vegas Insider.