2019 Fantasy Baseball: Handicapping the NL Cy Young Award Race
Awards voting is always fun and when there is a race as close as the NL Cy Young Award race appears to be. When you are talking about the beatwriters you are talking about a diverse group that often looks for different things. So, we are trying to give as much relevant information as possible, We are including the customary numbers and avoiding the sabermetric ones for the timebeing. I will list them in order that I think the voting will go, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate how I would vote. Numbers are accurate through August 29.
The Favorite: Hyun-Jin Ryu– Los Angeles Dodgers
Quality Starts: 19
Right or wrong, there is a recency bias when it comes to this award. Ryu is pitching later on tonight, so where he stands largely depends on how he finishes. Ryu got off to a brilliant start and hasn’t been quite as brilliant lately. Still, he has been the best pitcher in the NL for the balance of the season to this point. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t been the most durable one.
The other problem for Ryu is that the NL West stopped being a race in June. Other pitchers are having to go pedal to metal to get to the playoffs. The Dodgers may skip a start or two to keep him fresh for the playoffs. That will be good for him in terms of October, but it won’t be good for him in terms of the Cy Young award. Attendance does matter even it isn’t your fault that you don’t pitch.
Main Contender: Jacob deGrom– New York Mets
Quality Starts: 19
Sometimes you have to consider the whole picture. deGrom gave up one run through six innings of tonight’s game. The Mets are pushing hard for a wild card and their bullpen is razor thin. The end result? They threw him out there for the seventh inning and he gave up a three run home run. So, he lost the game and the quality start but he really didn’t pitch all that badly.
deGrom is second amongst the major contender in innings pitched, second in ERA, and has more strikeouts than any of the contenders. He’s also tied for second in quality starts. The best part of his candidacy is what he has done since the all-star break. Like the Mets as a whole, he has been surging and his fate is likely tied to their fate. If the Mets sneak into the wild card he might sneak out with another trophy.
Other Contenders: Clayton Kershaw–Los Angeles Dodgers
Quality Starts: 20
Kershaw leads the league in quality starts and he has missed a handful of them this year. That missed time is likely the difference between him winning the award and having to settle for a top five finish. He’s already won enough awards anyway as he and Max Scherzer have won five awards since 2010. He probably would have five of his own if he were able to stay healthy. Pound for pound he is the best pitcher of this generation.
Like Ryu, the priority is not for him to finish the season strong. The priority is for him to be healthy in October. That might mean five more starts, but it also might mean he gets pulled in the fifth or sixth inning instead of lasting seven innings. That might not be enough for him to build up the requisite numbers the voters will be looking for. He’s been on a roll and if he wins several more starts he could sneak into the conversation.
Max Scherzer–Washington Nationals
Quality Starts: 16
Where there is one there is always the other. It can’t be a Cy Young race if either Scherzer or Kershaw is not at least a candidate. His 16 quality starts seem bad until you realize he has only 22 starts. He is back in the rotation, but it is impossible to know if he will stay there. Their first priority is his long-term health and then the second priority is keeping him strong for October.
They are in the midst of a big wild card race, so that could end up being quite the juggling act. If he manages to make five or six starts and wins some of those games he could vault himself into the conversation, but he trails the leaders by 30 innings. That seems difficult to overcome even if he was 100 percent healthy now.
Stephen Strasburg–Washington Nationals
Quality Starts: 17
Strasburg would be a stronger candidate ten years ago with his 15 wins than he is now. He sneaks into the top five over guys like Luis Castillo and Aaron Nola because he has been pitching better lately and he could be the key figure in the Nationals hunt for the final wild card spot. Nola could be that guy for the Phillies, but the Reds are not a serious threat, so Castillo will not get that boost.
Admittedly, the ERA is not where you would like it to be, but the rest of the numbers are there. If he continues to pitch the way he has pitched in the second half he could lead the league in wins and give himself enough momentum to be a part of the final conversation.