Up to this point in the 2017 Major League Baseball season, only a handful of pitchers have risen above their peers, a tell-tale sign of a Cy Young award candidate. This award is given to the most outstanding pitcher in each league of Major League Baseball.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, 15-2, 2.04 ERA, 24 walks, 168 strikeouts
Kershaw appears to be the front runner. He is a three-time winner of the award, winning the accolade in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He is recovering from a back injury he suffered on July 23. This injury gave Oklahoma baseball fans their best chance to view possibly the greatest pitcher of this generation on Saturday, Aug. 26, when Kershaw made his rehab start with the Oklahoma City Dodgers. He struck out eight through five innings but lost. Kershaw, a 29-year-old ace, is 15-2 on the season, co-leading the MLB in wins, impressively posting a league-low 24 walks among qualifiers and holding the league’s lowest earned run average (ERA) at 2.04.
Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers, 14-1, 2.41 ERA, 30 walks, 127 strikeouts
Another member of the Dodgers pitching staff is the next logical candidate. Wood has posted a 14-1 record. Wood’s loss is the lowest among all pitchers with more than 15 starts. His 2.41 ERA is fourth best among starting pitchers.
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, 13-5, 2.21 ERA, 41 walks, 230 strikeouts
Pitching for the Washington Nationals, 33-year-old Max Scherzer hasn’t lost a step with a 13-5 record. He leads NL pitchers in strikeouts (230) and all pitchers in batting average against, batters hit .171 while facing him. Last season, he became the only pitcher in the 21st century to record 20 strikeouts in a game. Notably, his 2013 and 2016 awards could have been paired with another in 2015, a season Scherzer threw two no-hitters, only the sixth pitcher to do so in the history.
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox, 12-4, 2.88 ERA, 35 walks, 253 strikeouts
Boston acquired Chris Sale in an offseason in a trade with the Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox won that trade, receiving the best pitcher in the American League up to this point. Sale, 28, is 14-6 on the year. His 14 wins are an AL best. In addition, he has dominated batters, leading all pitchers in strikeouts with 253.
Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians, 13-4, 2.63 ERA, 33 walks, 215 strikeouts
Next up is 31-year-old Corey Kluber, an ace for last year’s AL champion Cleveland Indians. He is 13-4, with 215 strikeouts, good for fourth in the MLB. In July, Kluber became the fourth pitcher in MLB History to record 12 consecutive games with eight strikeouts, joining pitching legends Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan.
Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros, 11-2, 2.58 ERA, 32 walks, 90 strikeouts
29-year-old Dallas Keuchel, a Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, native, rounds out the list of American League Cy Young candidates. A Cy Young winner in 2015, he is Oklahoma’s second Cy Young winner, joining 1957 Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn. Keuchel is 11-2 with an AL leading 2.58 ERA. Those two losses are an American League low. Despite his 11-2 record and stellar ERA, Keuchel has started only 17 games this year, possibly eliminating him from contention, while Sale (26) and Kluber (22) have recorded more starts. Their increased volume of brilliance weighs heavily for Cy Young voters.