The MLB National League Cy Young conversation is an interesting one.
Very rarely do you see a player run away with an award as early as June, but that’s exactly what New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom has done in the 2021 MLB season.
Entering Wednesday, deGrom was the odds-on favorite at every major sportsbook to win the NL Cy Young Award.
Most books had him somewhere in the ballpark of a -250 betting favorite.
That’s an implied probably of 71.4 percent.
Unfortunately, deGrom left his start Wednesday with shoulder soreness.
He seems hopeful that the injury isn’t serious, but with all of the injuries that he has dealt with this season, it feels increasingly likely that the team might consider shutting him down for a short period of time out of precaution.
But candidly, as long as deGrom makes, say, 20 starts this season, the award is his to lose.
The guy has a 0.54 ERA through 11 starts and has fanned 111 batters in 67 innings.
No one else is doing what deGrom is doing.
All of that said, there are more names being tossed around in the NL Cy Young conversation than just deGrom, even if everyone else is just playing for second.
That leads us to our big question today: Are there any names in the conversation that don’t belong?
2. Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron Nola’s strong start to the 2021 MLB season vaulted him into the Cy Young discussion, but he has regressed of late.
The righty had a 2.89 ERA through five starts and made headlines with his masterful complete-game shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 18.
Over his last seven outings, however, Nola has allowed 20 earned over 39.1 innings, good for an ERA of 4.58 in that span.
Nola’s season ERA has ballooned to 3.69, and his ERA+ is only marginally above league average at 106.
“Not having the command I’m used to having is frustrating. It doesn’t keep me from working at it in throwing sessions. I still go into every single game with confidence in all my pitches. Might not look like it, but I always do.” – Aaron Nola on his recent struggles pic.twitter.com/01S5eOYknL
— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) June 14, 2021
It has still been a solid overall campaign for the 28-year-old, but he doesn’t belong in the mix for this award.
1. Jack Flaherty – St. Louis Cardinals
Most sportsbooks give Jack Flaherty the sixth-best odds at winning the Cy Young Award.
Flaherty is having a great season, but there are a couple of red flags.
He has an outstanding 2.90 ERA, but his 3.73 FIP suggests that he has been unsustainably lucky so far.
Beyond that, it feels like a lot of the Cy Young chatter surrounding Flaherty is rooted in his win-loss record.
The 25-year-old is 8-1 on the year and started his campaign at 8-0.
That’s obviously a very attractive number, but most readers would agree that win-loss record is a terrible measure of a pitcher’s performance.
The Sox successfully chase Jack Flaherty from the Harvard-Westlake reunion special, as Giolito's buddy can't even make it out of the fourth inning.
If the score holds, or even most of it, the Sox will hand Flaherty his first loss of 2021.
— Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) May 26, 2021
Flaherty is certainly having an All-Star-caliber season, but it has not risen to the level of a Cy Young-caliber season so far.
With several months still to go in the 2021 season, it’s entirely possible that both pitchers named on this list could flip a switch and go on a tear.
In that case, they’d be deserving of Cy Young talk.
But right now, both players are being regarded in a way that makes their current campaigns seem better than they’ve actually been.