With the 2021 MLB campaign rapidly coming to a close, it’s almost awards season.
A handful of pitchers on the American League side got preseason attention in the Cy Young discussion, but not all of those players have had good years.
Today, we’re going to be looking at a few AL hurlers who simply haven’t lived up to the hype this season.
For this piece, we won’t be considering players whose seasons were derailed by injuries (or other issues).
Rather, we’ll be looking at players who just haven’t performed well.
Let’s get started.
3. Hyun Jin Ryu
Hyun Jin Ryu opened the 2021 season with the fifth-best AL Cy Young odds according to one major sportsbook.
After the lefty dominated in 2019 and 2020, expectations were very high for him going into the 2021 campaign.
But things have not panned out for the 34-year-old this year.
Over 29 starts, he has a 4.34 ERA, 101 ERA+, 3.96 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP.
He also has an underwhelming WAR of 1.7.
In other words, he has been extremely mediocre.
For a guy playing on an $80 million deal, that sort of production isn’t going to cut it.
Given his track record, the veteran is clearly capable of pitching at a high level, but we haven’t seen that side of him in 2021.
He’ll make his next start tonight and will hope to get things moving in the right direction.
Hyun-jin Ryu was brought to Toronto and paid handsomely for nights like this one. This is his chance to salvage an ordinary season. This is huge for the Blue Jays.
— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) September 28, 2021
It’s the biggest start of his season.
2. Kenta Maeda
Kenta Maeda entered the 2021 season with the ninth-best AL Cy Young odds according to the aforementioned sportsbook.
The righty was electric in 2020, as he pitched to a 2.70 ERA and finished second in the Cy Young race.
But this season was a different story for him, and it came to a screeching halt earlier this month when he underwent Tommy John surgery.
He struggled out of the gate in 2021 and was never able to completely turn things around.
He’s going to finish the year with a 4.66 ERA, 91 ERA+, 4.09 FIP, and 1.30 WHIP over 21 starts.
He’s also going to end up with a WAR of just 0.3, which essentially implies that his production this season could have been easily replaced.
Unfortunately, the 33-year-old’s surgery will likely keep him out until 2023, which is also the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Twins.
1. Dallas Keuchel
After posting a sparkling 1.99 ERA in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, expectations were high for Dallas Keuchel heading into the 2021 season.
He had the 10th-best preseason AL Cy Young odds according to the aforementioned sportsbook.
But he hasn’t looked like a Cy Young candidate this season.
Over 31 outings (30 starts), the lefty has a 5.13 ERA, 84 ERA+, 5.22 FIP, and 1.51 WHIP.
He has an unfathomably poor strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.62, and he also has an abysmal WAR of 0.2.
Nothing has gone right for him this year.
I think a lot of the Dallas Keuchel heat amongst the White Sox fans is a bit over the top, but I do get it. He’s currently simply not playing well, hasn’t for most of the season. He’s occupying a spot that there’s currently better options for. His abrasiveness doesn’t help.
— Larry (Lenz) Brannon (@LBrannon53) August 31, 2021
The veteran won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, and he was one of the best starters in the league for a couple of years around that time.
But it looks like those days are over.
On the bright side, Keuchel’s Chicago White Sox are playoff-bound, so maybe the two-time All-Star will salvage his poor year by making an impact in the postseason (if he makes the roster).