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#pounditMonday, June 14, 2021

Top 10 MLB Cy Young Award candidates

Max Scherzer

The races for the Cy Young Award in both leagues certainly look likely to provide intrigue as we head toward the end of the season. There’s a good argument to be made that each league features a clear favorite right now, but there’s competition behind them very much within striking distance. A few good or bad starts could change things quite a bit.

Here are the current top five candidates for Cy Young in each league.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

5) Luis Severino, Yankees

A month ago, Severino might have been the favorite here, but things have gotten rough for him in August and may have cost him any shot at the award. His numbers are still fine, but his ERA has risen to 3.28 after sitting at 1.98 following his defeat of the Red Sox on July 1. Severino has still been the best pitcher on an often battered Yankee staff, and that could score him some points in voting despite his midseason swoon. His 16 wins in a big market will also help his case.

4) Edwin Diaz, Mariners

If any reliever can win the Cy Young this year, it’s Diaz, who has an increasingly realistic chance of topping Francisco Rodriguez’s single-season save record of 62. Diaz has been better than K-Rod was in every other way, though, including a 2.07 ERA and 105 strikeouts in just 61 innings. Perhaps most remarkable is that 24 of his 46 saves have been of the one-run variety. Ultimately, there’s likely too much strength ahead of him to actually win the award, but he’ll get votes.

3) Corey Kluber, Indians

Kluber’s teammate Trevor Bauer had an even stronger case to win the award this season, but an injury that may have ended his regular season may also ruin his chances of contending seriously for the honors. Don’t be surprised if many voters turn to Kluber, a mainstay in Cy Young conversations for several years now. He has a 2.68 ERA and 15 wins and is posting his usual strong numbers. He could easily sneak into the heart of the conversation if injuries or poor performance continue to plague some of the would-be contenders.

2) Justin Verlander, Astros

Verlander is another player who has slowed down a bit as summer has gone on, though his decline hasn’t been as bad as Severino’s. His ERA is still very low at 2.65, and he’s striking out batters at a higher rate than he ever has before, which is quite something when you consider Verlander’s career resume. His win total (12) isn’t what some voters will want, and the fact that he was at his most dominant early in the season may hinder him unless he turns in an outstanding September.

1) Chris Sale, Red Sox

It looks like this could be the year that Sale finally wins the Cy Young Award that has eluded him for so long. His resume is undeniable — a league-best 1.97 ERA, 12 wins, and 219 strikeouts on the best team in baseball. He’s allowed fewer than six hits per nine innings, and his WHIP is obscenely low at 0.849. He remains better positioned than anyone else to take home the hardware, but his lingering shoulder issue could be a hindrance if he can’t return to action quickly. For now, he’s still the favorite.

See the National League contenders on Page 2

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