Your NL Cy Young is…

Sophia Vlahakis, Editor-in-Chief, News and Sports

Jacob deGrom: the pitcher who is arguably the best of his generation, Trevor Bauer: the pitcher who has made a name for himself with his antics on and off the field, and Yu Darvish: the pitcher who is finally maximizing his potential, are all in the running for the NL Cy Young in this unconventional year. All three can not afford a bad somewhat poor game and with two starts left, every pitch counts.

After Darvish gave up a 3 run homer to the Reds to raise his NL leading 1.44 ERA all the way 1.77, it seemed the title was deGrom’s or Bauer’s for the taking. deGrom who became the NL ERA leader with a 1.67 was seemingly the frontrunner, but a dismal start against the Phillies that he got taken out of due to hamstring spasms may have scratched him from contention. It’s still too close to call, and if anyone can make a last ditch effort, it would be two time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.  

Bauer has the lead when it comes to ERA posting a 1.71. Consecutively following Bauer is Shane Bieber, the clear AL Cy Young candidate, then Darvish trailing closely with 1.86 and deGrom with a 2.09. If we look at FIP, however, the stats

tell a different story. FIP, an advanced earned run stat measuring the effectiveness of a pitcher, has deGrom standing alone. The Mets’ pitcher has 2.01 FIP while Bauer a 2.83 and Darvish a 2.17. With deGrom and Darvish only giving up 4 homers this season and Bauer 7, the edge in earned runs sits with the Cubs pitcher.

When it comes to strikeouts, Bauer and deGrom are barely distinguishable. Bauer has 83 strikeouts in 58 innings, and deGrom, 80 strikeouts in 56 innings. Bauer and deGrom also sit closely with a walk rate of around 6.5% which gives the advantage to Darvish who possesses a walk rate of less than 5%.  Bauer stands alone with a WHIP of .810 where as deGrom and Darvish both sit around .930, but a 2.5 and 2.4 WAR puts that battle between Darvish and deGrom. 

Breaking away from the pack with leads in WAR, walk and home run rate and innings pitched, the Cy Young is leaning towards 4 time All-Star Yu Darvish. Darvish has the potential to take over the NL ERA lead and only sits 4 k’s behind Bauer, but his final starts come against the White Sox and the Twins- two top tier playoff teams. Ironically, the former UCLA pitcher has his last starts against these teams as well. Bauer has the same challenges of having a competitive match up in the Twins’ pitching and facing the dominant hitting of the White Sox which ranks 3rd in batting average, but Bauer’s disadvantage is that he posts a 4.48 ERA against the Twins. This is concerning because what it comes down to for Bauer is keeping hold of his ERA lead which is his only real advantage since the WHIP’s of the other two pitchers are still so dominant. He needs to preserve an ERA so low it can not be comparable and the other empowering statistics of Darvish don’t hold enough weight against it. The Reds’ pitcher has to out pitch Darvish because if he comes out with a relatively similar performance, Darvish maintains the lead. Both need solid outings, but these final two starts may just be what smears one’s Cy Young campaign.

It’s tempting to cross a pitcher with an ERA over 2 out of contention, but there is hesitation when that pitcher is arguably the best pitcher in the entire MLB. If deGrom can get two good outings of 2 runs or less, he may just get his third consecutive Cy Young because he has the stats and the respect factor. His last two starts have not been great, but deGrom isn’t the type of pitcher to give up multiple runs so expecting dominance is far from a pipe dream. All he needs is his ERA to lower to the range of Darvish and Bauer. The rest of his statistics are just as good, and a high WAR and clear lead in FIP should not be ignored. deGrom’s final starts are against the Rays and the Nationals; Tampa Bay is one of the best teams in the AL but that lineup does not have experience with deGrom and Washington is struggling. Bauer and Darvish, also, are likely not walking away unscathed from Chicago and Minnesota so expect their ERA’s to rise giving deGrom the ability to close in.

It’s a race to the end where every single inning, every single at bat and every single pitch counts. The only right answer to who should be the NL Cy Young winner is that there is no right answer.