The MLB season is still in the very early stages but we’ve been treated to some great pitching performances on the way to the Cy Young award.
There’s a lot of incredible numbers being posted out there right now for starting pitchers. Picking the front runners for the Cy Young award in both leagues is very difficult at the moment. Guys like Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber might actually be on the outside looking in at the moment. That doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way, but other pitchers need to be recognized more as we get towards the end of April.
We’ve already seen A’s starter Sean Manaea throw a no-hitter and against the Red Sox at that. He doesn’t make the list. The Houston Astros have three worthy candidates to this point and only one of them is on the list. It’s going to be interesting to see if that stat siphons votes from one another if they can keep performing like they are. It can be argued that Lance McCullers has some of the best pure stuff in the majors and he’s been no better than the fourth best pitcher in his own rotation.
Before anyone gets mad online at me, let me say Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin is not on the list. He’s been phenomenal so far this year and if he repeats his performance in May, he’ll be here for sure. He just needs to show he can sustain what he’s been doing so far.
This month column is going to highlight players worthy of the award but also try and merge who is likeliest to win it. Teams that have a winning record and are in a big market have a natural advantage and pitchers in non-traditional markets have to pitch far better than others. Let’s dig into the box to see who’s leading the pack.
5. Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants
2-0 in 4 starts, 0.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 7.96 K/9
The grizzled veteran out in the Bay has been doing some serious work this month. It could be argued that Cueto has been the best pitcher in the majors to this point and his ERA and WHIP are both miniscule. The Giants are treading water near the .500 mark as their offense hasn’t woken up yet and they missed Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija for almost the entire seasons so far. Samardzija just made his return to the rotation but Cueto has been the anchor of the Giants team.
The weird part about Cueto is he is a true throwback pitcher. In an era of power arms and big strikeout numbers, Cueto is dominating right now with a fastball that averages around 90 MPH. That’s the speed of a lot of changeups today. Cueto just goes out and does his thing, relying on location and throwing junk towards the plate and letting the hitter make the out for him. This GIF may have been from last year but it’s a prime example of what Cueto is best at.
He alters his delivery all the time, making life insanely difficult on the hitter. When you’re throwing the type of pitches that Cueto does, you better have something to rely on. He doesn’t have the stuff he used to and he likely won’t be in the column come May. The phrase “he’s due for regression” is tailor made for Cueto’s season so far. It’s still fun to see a pitcher like Cueto getting the job done without a flame thrower’s arsenal.