After two pitchers started off looking like they would dominate the year, the gap has closed to the rest of the pack for the 2018 Cy Young awards.
It sure looked like Max Scherzer in the National League and Justin Verlander in the American League. While they’re probably still the front runners, the field is closing on them pretty quick. Unlike the MVP races, the Cy Youngs are both very close and it’s difficult to separate candidates because the secondary options are just so close together right now. In the A.L., you have pitchers like Blake Snell for the Rays, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton for the Astros and Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer for the Indians that aren’t even on the list this month.
The National League boasts arms that include Aaron Nola of the Phillies, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb of the Braves and Jon Lester of the Cubs that don’t rate well enough to be considered all too seriously. Pitching is incredible in the big leagues right now and this list could look quite different come the end of the season. After the top two, the field is wide open and anyone could come home with the award in either league this year. All stats that are referenced are accurate as of Wednesday, June 27.
5. Chris Sale, LHP for the Boston Red Sox
7-4 2.56 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 35.6 strikeout rate, 109 IP and 3.6 WAR
Good luck digging into the box against the big lefty from Boston. He can throw you a 98 MPH fastball near your face and then give you one of the nastiest sliders you’ve ever seen in a two pitch sequence, as is illustrated right here.
That’s totally unfair and while things are made more difficult since Dee Gordon bats as a lefty, it’s not like anyone else is having much success either. Sale is striking out over a third of the batters he is facing and it’s not hard to see why. He anchors the pitching staff for one of the best teams in baseball and how win/loss record is probably a shining example of why that’s not a good measure of a pitcher’s worth. He’s pitched much better than that and it’s surprising he doesn’t have more wins considering the offense he plays in front of. Sale is dominating and he’s right there to pounce on the leaders if they slip back any further.