The Cy Young race in at least one league will likely be anti-climactic. New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom might win the MVP award, so the Cy Young should just be a formality for him at that point.
MLB futures odds back that up, as deGrom is a huge favorite to win the award. The American League race is a lot more open, tough, with several viable candidates having strong seasons.
Here is a look at the top three Cy Young contenders in the National League and American League.
deGrom: Just to repeat, as long as his health remains intact, no one is winning this award except for him. He is 7-2 this season with a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 92 innings. Just before the All-Star break, deGrom became the second-fastest player in MLB history to reach 1,500 career strikeouts.
The Mets are a surprise contender this season, largely because of the dominance of their starting rotation anchored by deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Wagner.
New York leads the NL East despite scoring the second-fewest runs in baseball in the first half. Their +9 run-differential is by far the worst of any division leader in baseball. The margin for error that Mets pitchers have to work with is razor thin, but the staff, led by deGrom, has been up to the task. If the Mets stay in contention, expect deGrom to win the Cy Young and the NL MVP award.
Kevin Gausman: The San Francisco Giants are probably the biggest surprise in baseball, leading the NL West by two games over the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers and a young and improving San Diego Padres team that made the playoffs last season.
The Giants have led that division on the strength of dominant pitching, led by Gausman. They’ve allowed just 325 runs all season, second in all of baseball. Gausman made his first All-Star appearance this season at 30-years old and is 9-3 with a 1.73 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 114.2 innings. If he can keep the Giants in leading the division, he might be the only pitcher in the conversation with deGrom for the award by season’s end.
Brandon Woodruff or Freddy Peralta or Corbin Burnes: The Milwaukee Brewers have bounced back from an underwhelming season last season, and done so in large part because three Cy Young candidates anchor their pitching staff. The Brewers lead the NL Central by four games and their 348 runs allowed are fifth in the National League.
Woodruff is 7-4 with a 2.06 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 113.1 innings. Peralta is 7-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 98 innings. Burnes is 4-4 with a 2.36 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 87.2 innings.
Collectively, they’ve been among the best top threes in any rotation in baseball. But they all might be a little too close together statistically for any one of the three to be ahead of the others in the Cy Young chase.
Gerrit Cole: Cole signed a mega-deal with the Yankees before last season, and he’s lived up to it by being the workhorse of the staff. This season, Cole is 9-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 114 innings. He’s seventh in all of baseball in innings pitched and is coming off a performance against his former team, the Astros, just before the All-Star break in which he threw a career-high number of pitches.
The Yankees, as they did last season, continue to struggle with players in and out of the lineup due to injuries and illness. Cole is a big reason New York has been able to remain in contention in the AL East.
Carlos Rodon: The White Sox have a pitching staff anchored by two Cy Young favorites, so it’s no surprise they have allowed by far the fewest runs in the American League.
Rodon is 7-3 this season with a 2.31 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 89.2 innings. He is coming off of the first All-Star appearance of his career. His biggest problem might simply be that he has serious competition for the award from a teammate.
Lance Lynn: Lynn, with his 1.99 ERA, is one of just three starters in all of baseball with an ERA under two.
While Rodon made his first All-Star appearance this season, Lynn is a veteran who has played in the game before. However, the 9-year gap between his appearance this year and the last time he made it make him a sentimental favorite to win the Cy Young award if he’s able to keep up his production. In addition to his ERA, he has a 9-3 record with 105 strikeouts in 90.2 innings.