MLB Cy Young Rankings: Can anyone challenge Cole, deGrom?
Welcome to the second edition of theScore's 2021 Cy Young rankings. Familiar faces are beginning to take over but can new dark horses build on hot starts?
5. Lance Lynn, White Sox
Lynn may have deserved a higher spot on this list had his 10th start - scheduled for Wednesday - not been rained out. The big right-hander's White Sox tenure has started similarly to his 2020 campaign with the Rangers, where he posted a 1.93 ERA through 51 1/3 innings before hitting a wall and struggling down the stretch. A .222 BABIP and 3.97 xFIP suggests a correction may be coming, but he's among the best in the business right now.
4. Tyler Glasnow, Rays
Glasnow's 2019 breakout with Tampa Bay saw him considerably reduce his normally-high walk rate to 6.1%. After seeing it jump to 9.2% in 2020, he's dropped it slightly this season to 8.4%. Opponents are also struggling to do much with his arsenal as he's allowed only three more hits this year than he did last summer in just three more innings. Glasnow's also failed to complete six innings in only three of his 12 starts.
3. Shane Bieber, Indians
Don't be blinded by his ERA, which is higher than it should be thanks in part to a .327 BABIP. Bieber is a workhorse in a time when they're increasingly rare, with the right-hander leading the majors in innings pitched through the first two months. The reigning AL Cy Young winner may have weathered what amounts to a rough patch in May. Bieber allowed three earned runs over 14 innings in his last two starts while punching out 19.
2. Carlos Rodon, White Sox
Rodon put up a couple of shaky starts since throwing a no-hitter on April 14, but aside from those, he's been spectacular for the South Siders. The left-hander allowed one earned run or fewer in seven of his nine outings, resulting in the third-best ERA and FIP in the AL. Rodon's 13.2 strikeouts per nine - a career best - also ranks second in the league behind Bieber.
1. Gerrit Cole, Yankees
The Yankees right-hander is a cut above the rest, sitting on top of the list thanks to a league-best 1.78 ERA and 1.73 FIP. He also leads all starting pitchers with 3.0 WAR and ranks fifth in strikeouts per nine innings. New York's ace has only walked nine hitters this season, making five consecutive starts between April 18 and May 12 without issuing a free pass.
5. Zack Wheeler, Phillies
A little more than one season into his five-year, $118-million contract, Wheeler has exceeded even the loftiest expectations. Arguably the best pitcher on the staff last year, including Aaron Nola, Wheeler has cemented himself as the club's most reliable ace. His strikeout rate has reached a new gear at 31.7%, eight points better than his career average. Once a pitcher who did everything really well with no single standout ability, his FIP ranks fifth in the NL because he's borderline elite at everything.
4. Kevin Gausman, Giants
It's starting to become very clear why the Giants sought to extend Gausman this past winter prior to the right-hander accepting a one-year qualifying offer. He's allowed more than one run just once over 11 starts this season, and he's a huge reason San Francisco is atop the division. Gausman has unlocked another gear as a strikeout pitcher since his brief stint with the Cincinnati Reds to end the 2019 campaign. This season, that's translating to an elite 30.9% strikeout rate and, thanks in part to the friendly confines of Oracle Park, a very impressive 0.51 HR/9.
3. Brandon Woodruff, Brewers
Woodruff is achieving remarkable things, throwing 20 more innings than deGrom, striking out hitters as often as Gausman, and allowing fewer home runs than almost anyone - in hitter-friendly Milwaukee, no less. That's helping the right-hander to be among baseball's best in ERA, WHIP, and H/9. If he maintains these numbers while also being one of the NL's most tireless workhorses, he'll have no trouble finishing atop Cy Young ballots.
2. Corbin Burnes, Brewers
Standing in Woodruff's way - aside from deGrom - is his teammate. Burnes currently isn't a qualified pitcher, but he's made one more start than deGrom and thrown 1 1/3 more innings as well. While his record streak without surrendering a walk was spoiled, he's still walking fewer batters than deGrom and isn't giving up as many dingers. By FIP, Burnes (1.16) and deGrom (1.09) are essentially in a dead heat. Can the Brewers' breakout pitcher even up the ERA column over the remainder of the year?
1. Jacob deGrom, Mets
The two-time Cy Young winner is making a strong case for a third. DeGrom leads NL starters in ERA, FIP, WAR, strikeouts per nine, and average fastball velocity. His 1.2 walks per nine also rank third in the league, and he's only given up three homers and 22 hits in 51 innings. If he can stay healthy - deGrom was recently on the injured list with side and back tightness - the Mets should reap the rewards of having their ace throw every fifth day.
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