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NL Cy Young: The Best and the Worst

The NL East might have been trash this year, but it’s Aces were top notch.

Max Scherzer by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NL Cy Young: The Best and the Worst

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

The Cy Young is one of my favorite awards. While MVP seems to be held as the top award, Cy Young feels like the hardest to win. MVP has a team element, evaluating a player’s value to their team. Cy Young on the other hand, is all about how well one single player does against every hitter they face.The only person who can win you a Cy Young is yourself. It’s a lonely award. It’s the Stanley Cup of the BBWAA Awards. 

And boy, do we have some quality finalists this year! Let’s check them out.

Jacob deGrom – P, New York Mets

2018 Season: 10-9, 1.70 ERA, 32 Starts, 217 IP, 269 K, 0.912 WHIP, 6.3 H/9, 11.2 K/9.

Best Stat: 1.70 ERA.

Worst Stat: 10-9 record. 

Jacob deGrom plays for the New York Mets. The New York Mets are very bad at baseball. This is an established fact. The New York Mets are unable to get out of their own way in the regular season. Jacob deGrom refused to allow that to happen when he took the mound. It was only when he was removed from games, that he struggled to win games. In his 32 starts, Jacob deGrom only gave up 3+ runs in 5 of those games.

Let that sink in.

Jacob deGrom only gave up 3 or more runs in 5 starts this year. That’s insane. Actually insane.

So, in the remaining 27 games, Jacob deGrom received 2 or less runs in support of his efforts over 12 games, going 0-7. Rough. However, deGrom only gave up 16 runs in those 12 games. That’s 1.3 runs a game where the Mets scored 0 to 2 runs.

If there’s a dark mark on deGrom’s 2018, it’s his record. The common fan would look at a pitcher with a 10-9 record and say “he’s not that good,” where the more advanced fan of the game would say “record doesn’t matter.” And that’s the fight the Mets need to win for deGrom to take the Cy Young back to Queens for the first time since 2012.

Fun Fact: The last time a pitcher won the Cy Young with double digit losses was 2010, when Felix Hernandez won himself some hardware. 

Aaron Nola – P, Philadelphia Phillies

2018 Season: 17-6, 2.37 ERA, 33 Starts, 212.1 IP, 224 Ks, 0.975 WHIP, 6.3 H/9, 9.5 K/9.

Best Stat: 10.0 WAR.

Worst Stat: 9 Home Runs in September.

Remember when everyone was hyping up the Phillies because they signed Jake Arrieta and he was supposed to be their new ace and he was like the guy to save the Phillies and finally bring a playoff game back to Citizens Bank Park and they hype was so real and some writers even called the signing a step in the right direction to sign Mike Trout in 2021?

Aaron Nola remembers. 

Nola came out swinging in the earlier part of the season going 7-2 over the first two months of the season. During that span, Nola posted a 2.18 ERA and hit double-digit strikeouts twice. Things were looking good for Nola. But all good things can’t last, right?

Wrong. Nola continued rolling. 

Through August, Nola seemed unstoppable, dropping his ERA to 2.10 and notching another 7-2 record, leaving him standing firm at 14-4 with 6 starts left. But all good things come to an end, right?

Yes. They do. 

September was a rough month for the Phillies. Beginning the month trailing the Atlanta Braves by 3 games, Gabe Kapler’s squad looked like they could actually pull this thing off. They had the bats, the talent, the youth, and the pitching. I mean, Aaron Nola’s nasty good right now. And we have “Jake Arrieta” so like things should go according to plan?

The Phillies collapsed and ended the season 10 games behind the Braves, and behind the Nationals in good enough for third place in the atrocious NL East. 

So how did our boy Aaron do? Well, how does 2-3, with a 3.72 ERA sound? Aaron Nola gave up 8 home runs in the first 5 months of the season, but gave up 9 in the final month. That’s not great. And that’s frankly what’s going to hurt his season and his Cy Young hopes. Is that fair? N, but that’s baseball. 

Max Scherzer – P, Washington Nationals

2018 Season:18-7, 2.53 ERA, 33 Starts, 220.2, 300K, 0.911, 6.1H/9, 12.2 K/9.

Best Stat: 300 Strikeouts. BONUS: 12.2 K/9

Worst Stat: 2.53 ERA. BONUS: 4 Intentional Walks. A CAREER HIGH.

Max Scherzer loves winning the Cy Young. He LOVES it. Scherzer loves winning the Cy Young so much, he’s done it three times, twice in the last two years. Does he have a case for a three-peat? Yes. Because he loves winning the Cy Young. Scherzer is the most dominant National League pitcher this side of Dodger Stadium, and he put up the numbers to prove it.

300 strikeouts don’t just happen on their own, and they certainly don’t happen by accident. In the last 30 years, only 4 pitchers have hit the 300 mark, and Scherzer’s the 4th to do it. Five more men have thrown 300 strikeouts in a season, than have walked on the moon. That’s nuts. 

In any other year, Scherzer’s the guy. Hands down. Armed with the track record of an elite, once in a generation pitcher, he’s certainly come ready to play in the voting, but there’s a problem: his ERA.

Stop yelling. I know it’s low, but the main issue here isn’t that it’s above 2.00/ It’s insane to ask a pitcher to do that over the course of a season (deGrom, tho…), so the 2.53 is what stands out when he becomes a finalist. 

It’s also an oddity because it’s an area that he didn’t improve upon from last season. Aside from his WHIP, which shot up .009 points (sarcasm, fools), Scherzer’s 2018 was an improvement in even category with the exception of his ERA. When the competition gets stiff, and you have two dudes with lowers ERAs, can Scherzer pull off the three-peat?

So who wins the 2018 NL Cy Young?

To be honest, it’s going to be close, but it’s going to be deGrom vs. Scherzer.

Going into the final two awards it’s interesting to look at how the BBWAA voted in the previous two awards. The BBWAA opted for Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna, Jr. from Rookie of the Year, which I see as a split decision between the old way of thinking about the award and a new generation of baseball triumph. Miguel Andujar had the numbers, but Shohei had the hype. The BBWAA voted for the hype. Advantage deGrom. 

For Manager of the Year, the BBWAA went with skill over payroll. I was sure Boston Red Sox skipper Alex Cora would be winning the AL award, but instead, the honors went to Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics. My first reaction was shock, and that quickly subsided. Why? Because they’re right. Bob Melvin brought the A’s to the brink of a playoff birth with the second lowest payroll. That’s impressive. Cora has Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, Daivd Price and Rick Porcello on his squad. Melvin had Marcus Semien, Ramon Laureano, Chad Pinder, and Lou Trivino. Advantage: deGrom.

But then again, it’s Max Scherzer, you guys. MAX. SCHERZER. 300 STRIKEOUTS. Advantage: Max Scherzer.

However, at the end of the day, I have to tip my cap to deGrom. Because I’m a Mets fan and the #UnbridledOptimism is real and I hate it, but also#LGM.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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