There is an injury crisis taking over teams in MLB that has affected lots of pitchers.
The American League has been hit particularly hard: John Means recently hurt his shoulder, James Paxton is lost for the season, Chris Sale and Luis Severino are still rehabbing from elbow reconstruction surgery (the latter suffered a groin strain as well), Corey Kluber and Shane Bieber hurt their pitching shoulders, and Tyler Glasnow has UCL damage in his elbow, discovered this week.
With so many injuries, it’s fair to wonder: who are the best of the rest?
These three pitchers are in the elite of the AL in the aftermath of the injury crisis around the circuit.
3. Lance Lynn
The Chicago White Sox acquired Lance Lynn from the Texas Rangers this past MLB offseason, and while he isn’t precisely young, there is no way the organization regrets the move after seeing him dominate to this point.
In 12 starts and 71.2 frames, Lynn has an excellent 1.51 ERA, and other run prevention metrics agree with his success: his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is 3.26, and his expected ERA is 2.82.
As usual, Lynn is using a fastball-heavy approach to overpower his victims.
His 10.05 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) is among the best marks in the AL.
Lynn is currently fifth in the junior circuit in Wins Above Replacement, with 1.9.
If Bieber and Glasnow miss significant time, as is expected, he could climb in the top three in a few weeks.
2. Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon may be the single most important and impactful breakout in the White Sox’s 2021 season.
His high-end performance from the mound not only gives the team another ace to navigate tough lineups, but it also takes some burden of the bullpen and offers the club a high chance to win every five days.
Injuries and ineffectiveness had hindered his MLB career to this point, but a velocity increase has unlocked all his potential.
He averaged between 92 and 93 miles per hour on his four-seamer in previous, but this season, he is at 95.7.
Carlos Rodón is just bullying right now.
98mph Fastball…and gun check.
11th K thru 5. pic.twitter.com/IYpIQyuns5
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 22, 2021
This situation has allowed Rodon to achieve the highest strikeout rate of his career (37.2 percent) and one of his lowest walk rates (6.5 percent).
Overall, he has been brilliant, with a 1.89 ERA and a 2.41 FIP.
He is a Cy Young candidate, and there are no doubts about it.
1. Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole, who hasn’t won a Cy Young award in his career yet, has been presented with his best chance.
Not only he is pitching masterfully, as usual (2.31 ERA, 12.45 strikeouts per nine frames), but also, Bieber, Means, Glasnow, and others are out of the picture for the award.
The Yankees, to this day, have had a very disappointing season, sitting at 34-32 as of Wednesday afternoon, but Cole has been a consistent force at the top of the rotation.
Gerrit Cole, 89mph Slider and 99mph Fastball, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/Nix24JRUtC
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 3, 2021
As long as he is healthy, Cole will likely be the premier pitcher in the AL going forward, as he has been pitching at this level for significantly longer than Rodon.
Right now, the two of them are close, but Cole is the favorite to win the Cy Young.