Who is in the running to win the Cy Young award for the American League and the National League?
As the 2021 season draws to a close, voting will soon be in for the 2021 Cy Young Award. We take a look at the top three contenders from each league.
After a covid-shortened 2020 season, getting back into a full run of baseball was a breath of fresh air, a sense of normality in a world turned on its head. And so we settled a long summer, enjoying the familiar sounds of leather on ash and the smiling crowds coming back to the ballpark. Eventually, the dusty hot summer days began to give way to autumn and just when we thought that we could see the postseason picture, know for certain what was on the horizon, like a desert mirage it all shifted. Like the season itself, which just might go into extra innings, the Cy Young has become blurred and fuzzy.
The award, named in honour of Hall of Fame pitcher Denton True “Cy” Young, is traditionally given to the best pitcher in baseball. Originally given to only one pitcher, it has, since 1967, been given to the top pitcher in each league. In theory, the pitcher with the best stats is the obvious winner, but in the time-honoured tradition of baseball, the devil is in the details.
NATIONAL LEAGUE top picks
Walker Buehler, Dodgers
2021 stats: 15-4, 2.49 ERA, 201 K's, 0.97 WHIP, 202 2/3 IP (32 starts)
The West-coast ace has been a marvel to behold all season in LA, but his second half performance has been almost unbelievable. After returning from the All-Star break, he posted a miserly 1.33 ERA through the end of August, and although returning to the realm of mortals through September, he is still the hot pick for this season’s award.
Corbin Burnes, Brewers
2021 stats: 11-4, 2.29 ERA, 230 K's, 0.93 WHIP, 165 IP (27 starts)
Milwaukee’s wunderkind has better stats on fewer innings pitched than his National League rivals and an impressive strikeout performance of the back half of the season. He punched out 14 Indians two weeks before the end of the season and produced an MLB record-tying 10 strikeouts in a row on the road to 15 total K’s against the Cubs in August. Here is someone who demands to be taken seriously in the ballots.
Max Scherzer, Dodgers
2021 stats: 15-4, 2.46 ERA, 236 K's, 0.86 WHIP, 179 1/3 IP (30 starts)
The Dodgers have the hottest starting pitcher roster in the National League this year, perhaps in all of baseball, and what they didn’t own, they traded for. Squeaking in before the trade deadline, they picked up three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer from Washington. He had put in a performance in DC which would have seen him push for the award there, but since swapping coasts he has put up stupid numbers. Sweeping his first seven starts for only a 0.78 ERA he is pleading his own case for a fourth award.
AMERICAN LEAGUE top picks
Liam Hendriks, White Sox
2021 stats: 8-3, 2.61 ERA, 108 K's, 0.75 WHIP, 69 IP (0 starts, 67 games in relief)
In a league of impressive relief pitchers, none have been more of a breakout than Australian four-seamer Hendriks. Throwing extremely hard and with a whiffy curveball, he has been as difficult a pitcher as any in the league. Starting the season he was an outside shout, a dark horse because non-starters rarely win the Cy Young Award, but as we move into the final week, it may just be his to lose.
Carlos Rodon, White Sox
2021 stats: 13-5, 2.37 ERA, 185 K's, 0.96 WHIP, 132 2/3 IP (24 starts)
Far more traditional in his pitch selection, the only southpaw in this list, he has a solid four-seam fastball and a slider that account for over 70% of the pitches thrown. On the plus side, he has excellent control and placement but on the downside, his lack of a real punch-out pitch makes him a fly-ball pitcher. He gets the job done and his numbers show that, but it isn’t always in eye-catching fashion.
Gerrit Cole, Yankees
2021 stats: 16-8, 3.23 ERA, 243 K's, 1.06 WHIP, 181 1/3 IP (30 starts)
The hands-down favorite for the leagues pick this season, has looked less like a shoe-in and more like an almost-was. The 100 MPH-plus right-hander with a wicked knuckle curve was on everyone’s lips going into the All-Star break, but the second half of the season has been a damp squib after he had an IR hampered August just when the rest of the pack was closing ground on him. Being a New York ace may still save him yet as it is the sports writers’ votes that determine the award and boy do sports writers love the Yankees.
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