Cy Young rankings: No runaway favorite with 1 month remaining

Cy Young rankings: No runaway favorite with 1 month remaining

Welcome to the fifth and final edition of theScore’s 2023 Cy Young rankings, where we look at the top five pitchers in each league. Let’s run through the aces still in the conversation with the home stretch upon us.

American League

5. Framber Valdez, Astros

Paul Rutherford / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

174.2
3.30
3.47
168
1.10
+3300

Since no-hitting the Guardians in early August, Valdez has had some stinkers and that’s really hurt his chances down the stretch. In six starts since that dominant effort that seemed to make him a Cy Young frontrunner, the 29-year-old lefty has posted a 4.68 ERA and 4.94 FIP while the Astros fight to stay in the postseason picture. For a wily pitcher with a deep arsenal who has to rely on weak contact in lieu of swing-and-miss stuff, that just won’t cut it if he wants a mantlepiece at season’s end.

4. George Kirby, Mariners

Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

159.1
3.39
3.25
145
1.05
+3300

In many ways, Kirby is the unsung hero of the Mariners, with lower odds to win Cy Young than his teammate Luis Castillo. And while Castillo has a lower ERA and pitched 10 more innings than Kirby, it’s the sophomore’s efforts that have really helped buoy Seattle into a playoff position, including a remarkable complete-game shutout against the AL-best Orioles in mid-August. Since the All-Star break, his 3.20 FIP is sixth-best in the AL among starters with at least 50 innings. And his incredible 0.79 BB/9 isn’t only leading MLB, but it would be the lowest walk rate over a full season by a qualified starter since Phil Hughes in 2014.

3. Sonny Gray, Twins

Brace Hemmelgarn / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

163
2.98
2.90
160
1.17
+1000

Gray remains mystifyingly elite this year, riding an uncanny ability to suppress home runs in what will be inarguably the greatest campaign of his impressive career. The 33-year-old hasn’t allowed more than one homer in any given start this season and has allowed zero in 21 of 28 outings. That translates into a barrel rate in the 74th percentile and a ground-ball rate in the 78th percentile, propelling the Twins into first place and a playoff spot.

2. Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays

Daniel Shirey / Major League Baseball / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

159.1
3.39
2.83
207
1.21
+1400

Like it or not, we’re in for another awards voting season that will serve as a referendum on newfangled metrics versus old-school stats. And sabermetricians, this year, your champion is Gausman. This debate is old and tired and, honestly, over thanks to most voters taking all sorts of stuff into account. If the season ended today, Gausman would certainly get first-place votes because of his AL-best 2.83 FIP. However, he’s hit some snags recently that have really inflated his stats, with a four-start stretch posting a 5.75 ERA and 3.65 FIP. If you’re going to win on advanced numbers alone, you have to be exceptionally dominant, like Corbin Burnes in 2021. And for Gausman, the ceiling is there, he just needs to show it again in his final few games to claim the hardware.

1. Gerrit Cole, Yankees

Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

180
2.90
3.41
195
1.05
-400

Right now, it’s Cole. And it’s weird to say because, as far as Cole seasons go, this campaign has been rather pedestrian. Sure he has an AL-leading 2.90 ERA while working the most innings of any pitcher in the Junior Circuit, but he’s been inarguably better and probably more deserving in each of his efforts in 2018-21. This isn’t a Pyrrhic victory by any means, though. The 32-year-old ace might not strike guys out as much anymore, but he straightened out a homer issue that plagued him last season. This seems to finally be his year.

National League

5. Zack Wheeler, Phillies

Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

164
3.62
2.97
185
1.07
+5000

Back in 2021, some were beside themselves when Burnes (with a better fWAR over 46 fewer innings) beat Wheeler in Cy Young voting. Now that Wheeler is the MLB leader in fWAR, it seems unjust for him to potentially lose. But that’s the reality thanks to a relatively ho-hum 3.62 ERA and great-but-not-dominant 2.97 FIP. The 33-year-old is certainly underrated, but he’s likely finishing outside of the finalists this year.

4. Justin Steele, Cubs

Quinn Harris / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

152
2.55
2.98
153
1.14
+600

Steele possesses the second-best ERA in baseball this year and is even excelling by advanced metrics after breaking into the majors as a bit of a throwback. The southpaw now strikes out more than a batter per inning and racked up an even dozen against the Giants earlier this week while allowing two hits over eight frames. In tandem with a strong walk rate and elite homer rate, Steele is in the 82nd percentile in barrel rate, 84th in chase rate, and is a huge factor in the Cubs’ second-half triumphs.

3. Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks

Norm Hall / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

178.2
3.48
3.32
186
1.11
+1000

Gallen’s season is almost the exact opposite of last year’s effort when he overcame a dull start with an incredible second half. Now, he’s been fading down the stretch, with a 4.33 ERA and 4.45 FIP since the All-Star break. If he can recapture the form that made him so special in the first half over his final few outings and help send the D-Backs to the postseason, he could easily win some narrative votes. But the gap to the top two might be too wide now.

2. Spencer Strider, Braves

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

159.1
3.56
2.81
245
1.05
+320

At the top of the NL Cy Young race, it’s 1A and 1B with Strider narrowly trailing. The Braves sophomore ace ran into some homer issues in the middle of the season but has since ironed those out, allowing one over his most recent six starts while racking up 46 strikeouts. He can still get a bit wild at times, expanding the zone to get those highly coveted whiffs and issuing 13 walks over that same span, but he rarely lets it come back to bite him. He’s not the favorite right now but, if the season ended today, it’d hardly be an upset if he won.

1. Blake Snell, Padres

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty

IP
ERA
FIP
K
WHIP
Odds

155
2.50
3.69
201
1.25
-215

Snell’s second half remains incomprehensibly great. If he doesn’t falter in the final month, he’ll almost certainly become the seventh pitcher in MLB history to win a Cy Young in both leagues. Since the All-Star break, the lefty has posted a 1.89 ERA and 3.86 FIP with 69 strikeouts over 57 innings while allowing only four homers. Will some voters hold his mediocre 12-9 win-loss record against him? Or the fact that the Padres will miss the playoffs? Perhaps, but he’s done an incredible job at controlling what he’s needed to manage.

Copyright © 2023 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.


Full Story »

Comments

Leave a Comment






The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

More in News

Phillies could get key player back from injury for NLCS

The Philadelphia Phillies could be getting a significant boost for ...

Phillies’ Realmuto calls D-Backs’ confidence ‘daunting’

Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto isn't going to take the ...

Rangers activate Max Scherzer for ALCS: What starter means for Texas’ chances vs. Houston

Max is back. The Rangers officially placed starter Max Scherzer ...

2023 MLB odds: Why you should bet on Astros to win the ALCS, MVP pick

Astros baseball in October has become inevitable. FOX Sports MLB ...

Rangers vs. Astros predictions, start time, how to watch, pitching matchups: Live updates

Follow along as the Rangers take on the Astros in ...

Trending on Baseball Chronicle

Rays need to dramatically change approach to become World Series team

Tampa Bay Rays fans have seen this movie before, and ...

Braves’ Acuna confronted by 2 fans during victory

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was confronted by two ...

Pirates hurt Reds’ wild-card chances with historic win after trailing by 9 runs

The Pittsburgh Pirates pulled off the largest comeback win in ...

Mariners’ George Kirby is the best control pitcher in baseball — and he’s tougher than you think

“Wired to want to throw strikes": According to the Elias ...

Jorge Soler CRUSHES a two-run home run to give the Marlins a lead against the Nationals

Jorge Soler's two-run home run helped the Miami Marlins take ...