As we approach June, MLB pitchers have had plenty of time to prove who is in top form and who is still trying to figure out some things.
These three pitchers, however, have cemented their place as true Cy Young candidates with their performances on the mound.
3. Nestor Cortes Jr., New York Yankees
Just about everybody thought Gerrit Cole would be the best pitcher in the New York Yankees rotation.
But we were all wrong: that honor, so far, belongs to Nestor Cortes Jr.
What Cortes is doing shouldn’t really be all that surprising, since he posted a 2.90 ERA last year in 93 innings and works in one of the best organizations in pitching development.
But this year, he has taken things to another level: with a 1.70 ERA in 53 innings (not to mention 10.36 strikeouts per nine frames), he is a bonafide Cy Young candidate in the American League.
His latest dominating showing came on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays: he conceded a single run in eight frames, with five strikeouts.
Cortes leads all Yankees starters in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), with 1.6, and is fourth in MLB.
Can you imagine ‘Nasty Nestor’ winning the Cy Young award in the American League?
It’s not a crazy thought, as it turns out.
— Yankees (@yankeesmoments_) May 20, 2022
2. Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays
If we consider WAR, Gausman has been the best starter in baseball, with 2.7.
The second-placed pitcher, Tarik Skubal, is at 2.0.
If voters gave WAR its proper weight in the voting process, Gausman should be the Cy Young winner, at least until this point.
The free agent signing has been a huge hit in the front of the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation.
In 56 frames, he has a 2.25 ERA, but a 1.32 FIP.
FIP means Fielding Independent Pitching, and evaluates pitchers for the outcomes they can control, removing defense from the equation.
It means, basically, that Gausman’s ERA should be even lower.
He has been a truly dominant force for the Blue Jays, who will be fighting to make the playoffs and needed a legit ace.
After a couple of great years in San Francisco, Gausman returned to the AL East to show he can handle even the game’s best lineups.
He has been truly outstanding.
LSU’s Own Kevin Gausman …. Aka Cy Gausman…. Aka 3rd best pitcher in the MLB in swing and miss % …. #1 K/BB ratio pitcher in the league pic.twitter.com/RKx78W9gFo
— #BetWithBlake (@BetWithBlake) May 26, 2022
1. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Justin Verlander winning the Cy Young at 39 years old and coming off major elbow surgery would be nothing short of amazing.
The future Hall of Famer is proving he still belongs in MLB’s elite, becoming the ace the Astros needed (and missed) last year.
So far, the veteran right-hander has a minuscule 1.22 ERA in 51.2 innings, with a 2.83 FIP and 49 strikeouts.
The last season he was fully healthy, in 2019, he won the Cy Young in the American League.
Then, he got injured and missed most of 2020 and 2021.
It would be really amazing if he could come back and prove he didn’t miss a beat by winning the Cy Young once again.
If somebody can do that, it’s probably him.