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Jacob deGrom has earned the privilege of being considered the preseason favorite for the National League Cy Young Award every year, just as Mike Trout has been the AL MVP. The Mets ace has done nothing to lose that status this season, leading the majors in ERA (0.68), FIP (1.02), WHIP (0.60), H / 9 (3.8), K / 9 (14.6) and scoring the rhythm of all the headlines. in K% (46.1). Even given the contact aversion settings, those are video game numbers, most of which would set records if held for an entire season.
All Mets fans may have felt their heart skip a beat after seeing the news that deGrom left his most recent start early and was placed on the disabled list with right-side tension. Fortunately, all the signs since then seem to indicate that they are being especially cautious with their ace, and that deGrom may only miss a start given the abundance of days off coming up in New York.
But even if he’s healthy for the rest of the year, Thursday’s showdown between the Cardinals and the Brewers showed the two-time Cy Young winner will have some tough competition for the award in 2021. Corbin Burnes and Jack Flaherty battled one of the best pitchers duels of the season, which ended with a 2-0 St. Louis victory.
Burnes, of course, set a major league record by striking out his 58th batter of the season before finally walking his first, Tommy Edman, in the fifth inning. Even after a two-week break due to a positive COVID-19 test, the 26-year-old was electric, allowing a run in five innings and striking out nine to complete the only free pass. But he was once again disappointed by the Brewers’ offense, which has loaded him to a 2-3 record despite a brilliant 1.57 ERA.
Milwaukee just couldn’t do anything against Flaherty, who went scoreless six with six strikeouts to become the first pitcher with seven wins this season and, according to Zachary Silver of MLB.com, the Cardinals’ first pitcher with an ERA below 3.00 and seven wins in his first eight games since Bob Gibson in 1965. Flaherty hasn’t been as dominant as Burnes thus far, and he’s been blessed with the best running support. in MLB — the Cardinals have averaged 9.43 runs in their starts. But he showed that potential in 2019, when he finished fourth in the Cy Young voting at the back of a second half during which he posted a 0.91 ERA in 15 starts, with 124 strikeouts in 99.1 innings.
They are far from the only ones waiting behind the scenes to take advantage of any prolonged absence or sudden decline from deGrom. With about a quarter of the season on the books, here are the top three non-deGrom candidates in a National League Cy Young field that’s so stacked that the reigning winner (Trevor Bauer) falls short of this ranking. despite barely falling out of his winning campaign:
1. Brandon Woodruff, Brewers
For now, Woodruff gets the nod on his rotation partner Burnes, who hasn’t pitched enough innings to qualify for the statistical leaderboards due to his COVID-induced absence. Among NL pitchers, Woodruff ranks first in bWAR (2.5) and aggregate winning probability (1.9) and second behind deGrom in ERA (1.64), WHIP (0.73) and FIP (2.26). Burnes is the Brewer who has received the most press so far, but the 2018 All-Star Woodruff has a longer track record of success and would likely start Game 1 of a playoff series for Milwaukee tomorrow.
2. Corbin Burnes, Brewers
Burnes has been too unbeatable to put any lower than this, even with several fewer starts than his competitors. After posting a 2.11 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 59.2 innings last season to quietly finish sixth in the Cy Young voting, he has raised his already overwhelming odor rates while maintaining control over the strike zone to an all-time high. The scruffy-haired Bakersfield, California native seems willing to make deGrom run for his money, even if the latter is at the peak of his powers.
3. Trevor Rogers, Marlins
Bauer certainly has an argument here as the NL leader in strikeouts, but I’ll give this spot to the rookie southpaw who has already dueled deGrom, Burnes and young Ian Anderson. The 23-year-old ranks third in the National League in ERA (1.84) and fourth in FIP (2.49) behind 57 strikeouts in 44 innings and a microscopic rate of 0.41 HR / 9 IP. Miami may possess the most promising collection of young guns in the sport, and Rogers may end up competing for Rookie of the Year with teammate Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Honorable mention: Bauer, Kevin Gausman, Yu Darvish, Zack Wheeler, Joe Musgrove, Max Scherzer
- The Mariners debuted with a pair of top prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert, who were first-round picks in the 2018 draft, against Cleveland on Thursday night. But Zach Plesac stole the show by missing Seattle in seven innings before allowing a single down the middle to JP Crawford and a home run to Dylan Moore in Cleveland’s 4-2 win. Kelenic, a consensus top-five prospect in baseball who is only 21 years old, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Gilbert, ranked the 28th best prospect of the game by MLB.com, allowed four runs in four innings, allowing home runs to Franmil Reyes and Jose Ramirez. He hit 97 mph, walked no one and struck out the last three batters he faced. Not bad for a debut, but he was no match for another reliable cog in Cleveland’s pitching machine.
- In Kelenic’s first appearance at the plate, Cleveland outfielder Josh Naylor, who is not known for his glove, fell into the stands to retire the rookie on the first pitch he saw as a Mariner. Welcome to the greats, boy.
- Toronto scored four runs off Atlanta closer Will Smith in the ninth to win, 8-4, and secure its second three-game sweep over the Braves this season. It’s the first time Atlanta has been winless in a season series of at least six games since they went 0-6 against the Cubs in 2008. The Braves have returned to .500 three times this season, only to support immediately losing streaks in at least three games, including your current streak. Their playoff odds on FanGraphs have dropped more since Opening Day than any other team in the National League, from 63.8% to 29.6%.
- The only team that sees its playoff odds decrease more than the Braves are the Twins, whose postseason odds have dropped a whopping 51%, down from 63.3% on Opening Day to 12.3%. Minnesota also lost to complete a sweep Thursday, and its losses were even more damning when it came to the division-leading White Sox, who now lead Minnesota in fourth place by 10 games in the AL Central. . The 2006 Twins rallied from 12.5 games in the division on May 27 to capture the division crown on the final day of the season. Johan Santana isn’t going through that door to win the Cy Young like he did back then, but it would help if Kenta Maeda (5.08 ERA in seven starts) started to look like the Cy Young runner-up he was last year.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.