With April in the books, it is time to look at the 2021 MLB Cy Young ladder in both the American League and the National League. If the season ended today, who would snag the league Cy Young Awards?
Stats are accurate as of May 2.
2021 MLB Cy Young: American League
No.1: Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
Gerrit Cole has been exceptional through his first 37 innings of the 2021 season. He has posted a 1.43 ERA, 273 ERA+ and an MLB-leading 0.48 FIP. His sensational start has been one of the most dominant three true outcome levels of pitching ever. He has allowed just one home run and three walks so far. Mix in a 14.8 K/9 (leading the American League), and Cole is well in line for his fourth straight top-five AL Cy Young finish. He currently has an otherworldly 20.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio, leading the AL.
No.2: Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays
Tyler Glasnow has regained his 2019 form. Through six starts, Glasnow is striking out 13.4 batters per nine innings, and he has a WHIP below 0.800. He has an AL-leading 4.5 hits allowed per nine. While he has always had “the stuff” to be an elite pitcher in Major League Baseball, he is finally putting it together. His 1.67 ERA, 224 ERA+, and 1.70 FIP rank among the best in baseball. Glasnow will need to keep up this pace beyond the 60 innings of 1.78 ERA ball he pitched in 2019, but he has the repertoire to make it happen over 30-plus starts in 2020.
No.3: Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals
Run prevention is often the name of the game, and Danny Duffy has been the best American League pitcher at preventing runs. His 0.60 ERA and 722 ERA+ are in the same ballpark as a certain New York Met coming up in the National League list. While the peripherals are not as fond of Duffy as ERA (with a FIP of 2.61), he is much improved from his previous campaigns. He has a WHIP of 0.967 bolstered by his best walk rate since 2017 and his best hit rate ever. Duffy is even striking out 10.2 batters per nine, a significant improvement over the 8.0 K/9 he had coming into the season.
No.4: John Means, Baltimore Orioles
Perhaps the strangest stat so far in 2021 is John Means leading the American League in bWAR among pitchers. He ranks fourth in ERA (1.70), third in WHIP (0.838), second in hits per nine (5.108), and third in ERA+. While Means is a former All-Star and runner-up to the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year, this is the most impressive stretch of his career. While his FIP is far from enlightening (3.62), he has had success for the Baltimore Orioles so far in 2020. For a team that has few bright spots, Means has been a beacon of hope.
No.5: Kyle Gibson, Texas Rangers
With a career ERA closer to 5.00 than 4.00, Kyle Gibson is a highly unlikely Cy Young candidate, but here we are. Through six starts and 33 innings, Gibson has surrendered just a 2.16 ERA, good for a 196 ERA+. He has yet to allow a home run, and his WHIP, H/9, BB/9, and K/9 are better than his career numbers. Like Means, it would be unexpected for Gibson to maintain this hot streak deep into the season, but it is an exciting start for a Texas Rangers team that does not have much to look forward to this season.
2021 MLB Cy Young: National League
No.1: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
Numbers often speak louder than words. Here is Jacob deGrom‘s statline from 2021 through his first 35 innings: 0.51 ERA, 59 strikeouts, 760 ERA+, 4.1 H/9, 15.2 K/9. The strikeout total leads the National League, and the other four stats lead Major League Baseball. His FIP of 0.83 is wildly impressive, and he is striking out 14.75 batters per walk allowed. We are witnessing the peak of a Hall of Famer. Pencil in a third Cy Young Award for deGrom. No one will catch him.
No.2: Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers
For as much as deGrom has dominated pitching headlines, Corbin Burnes has been just as dominant for the most part. While Burnes is on the injured list now, practically ending his chase of deGrom, his raw stats are off the charts. His 1.53 ERA and 274 ERA+ are in another stratosphere. He has yet to allow a walk in 29 innings, and he leads the NL in FIP. His WHIP of 0.545 and 0.0 BB/9 lead Major League Baseball. He is even striking out 15.0 per nine innings, just a shade below deGrom’s 15.2. This may not classify as a breakout season because he finished sixth in Cy Young voting last season, but Burnes is legit.
No.3: Joe Musgrove, San Diego Padres
While Joe Musgrove was hit hard to begin May, his April was among the best in baseball. He has one of two no hitters so far in 2021, and he still has impressive numbers even after allowing five earned runs in five innings on May 2 against the San Francisco Giants. Musgrove ended April with a 1.24 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 29 innings. His Cy Young candidacy took a hit, but he still has a respectable 2.38 ERA and 157 ERA+. He has a WHIP of 0.735 and a K/9 rate of 12.4. It has been quite the breakout season for the former Pittsburgh Pirate.
No.4: Trevor Rogers, Miami Marlins
After a shaky debut 2020 season, Trevor Rogers has been electric so far in 2021. The front runner for NL Rookie of the Year, Rogers has an ERA of 1.91 through 33 innings pitched. He has a WHIP of 1.061 and an ERA+ of 216. He has also been striking out 12 batters per nine. While the Miami Marlins are already in the cellar of the National League East, Rogers and fellow rookie Jazz Chisholm should provide excitement for the Fish.
No.5: Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers
A 2019 NL All-Star, Brandon Woodruff has been terrific so far in 2021. Through 35 innings pitched, he has an ERA of 1.80, a FIP of 2.14, and a WHIP of 0.800. He leads the National League in home runs allowed per nine, and he has healthy walk and strikeout rates. His ERA+ of 233 ranks third in the NL. After being snubbed from Cy Young voting in 2020, Woodruff should be in contention this season.
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