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Cy Young Award: Kevin Gausman Is Putting Up A Fight

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The Cy Young award race has been tight in the NL, with one of the top candidates being waived and non tendered in a span of one year. Kevin Gausman in 2019 joined the San Francisco Giants after being non tendered by the Cincinnati Reds, in his two seasons as a Giant, Gausman has skyrocketed himself to the top of the rotation and the league is taking notice.

Chart Source: Baseballsavant

Gausman could be on his way to being voted into his first career all-star game this year, but that could all change being ranked fourth in the entire league among pitchers with a 3.0 fWAR over 15 starts trailing only Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and Gerrit Cole. In May he was announced as the pitcher of the month for the NL along with Rich Hill in the AL. A career year is doing wonders for Gausman and the Giants, who will look to continue his dominance deeper into the season.

Cy Young Award: Playing His best A Giant

In his 96.2 innings pitched, Gausman has a 1.49 ERA with a 2.40 FIP/3.05 xFIP while also striking out batters at a 30.5% clip and walking batters at a career-low 5.2% rate. Gausman is keeping hitters to a career-low 5.0 H/9 which has also lead to 0.60 HR/9 that ranks 5th in MLB. The right-hander has made great strides forward in his strikeout rate, over the two previous seasons (156.1 innings pitched) has set career-high numbers reaching 30% strikeouts rates in both seasons.

Graph Source:Baseballsavant.com

The best pitch for Gausman has easily been his splitter, which has a 49.5% whiff rate and a .159 xwOBA. The major blockage of pitching in the NL Cy Young award race is you are competing against Jacob deGrom who has been far and above the best pitcher in baseball. Zack Wheeler has been putting together a really good season as well and leads Gausman 0.5 fWAR, both trailing deGrom’s fWAR of 4.2 that is tied for the most in MLB (tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr).

Gausman carries a 25.3% K-BB percentage which ranks 8th in the league, which is 7% higher than his original career-high in 2019 of 18.2%. The majority of the damage done by Gausman is done using his four-seam fastball and splitter that combined have compiled for 87.4% of pitches thrown, opposing hitters are slugging .146 off the splitter has a put away rate of 33.9%. The pitch since 2015 hasn’t surrendered an xSLG over .300 since 2015 and is now one of the most dominant pitches in baseball.

Rest of Season Expectations

With the all star game jerseys just being announced, its safe to say its to early to be speculating about the Cy Young award race. Despite the dominance from Gausman, there has been a bit of luck involved with his four-seam fastball. The pitch has surrendered a .327 slugging percentage and has a less than ideal .460 expected slugging percentage. Even with this Gausman is still having his best year results wise on the four-seam.

Chart Source: Baseballsavant.com

Given the Giants record hey have no reason but to compete, and pitching in oracle park is a “Giant” advantage for pitchers. using Baseballsavant.com we’re able to see that Oracle Park ranks last in park factor with a 93 rating, first place is none other than Coors Field with a 113 park factor rating (100 is average).

In 2021 Gausman has pitched 35 innings at home while having 61.2 innings on the road. Gausman has only surrendered 7 home runs for the year with 4 coming at home where he has a 3.02 ERA. Gausman has a FIP/xFIP each under 3.00 at home, suggesting the park factors might not be playing that much of a factor in his numbers. When the NL Cy Young award voting gets more steam, expect Gausman’s name to be in the mix.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Murray is a college student attending Humber College for Sport Business, can be found on Twitter at @_MurrayBrown