The Cy Young race is wide open in both the American League and the National League. There is no clear-cut favorite in either the AL or the NL, as Jacob deGrom is dealing with another injury and Gerrit Cole has always been the bridesmaid but never the bride when it comes to the Cy Young. That will make the competition for the best pitcher in each league intense throughout the duration of the summer.
You can make a strong case that Gerrit Cole has been the best pitcher in the American League over the last four seasons. Cole has been an All-Star three times in that stretch, and the New York Yankees made him the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history at the end of the 2019 season. He has finished runner-up in the AL Cy Young voting twice in that stretch, and he has been in the top five for all four seasons.
Cole led the majors in strikeouts in 2018 and 2019, and he can make a lot of batters miss. He had a 2.92 ERA with a 1.059 WHIP last season, and all of his peripherals indicate that he is in for another solid year in 2022. Cole is the most consistent starter in baseball at the moment, and he could win 20 games with the Yankees.
The 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner can’t be dismissed. Shane Bieber was one of the best pitchers in the majors in 2019, and he was absolutely brilliant in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. Bieber really struggled in an injury-plagued 2021 though with a 1.21 WHIP and a 3.17 ERA. There’s no denying his talent, but there isn’t a lot to work with on Cleveland as the Guardians have parted ways with most of their best players. Wins don’t matter that much anymore, yet award winners generally need to be on competitive teams.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer is probably the top contender to win the NL Cy Young given Jacob deGrom’s injury. Scherzer has been an elite pitcher with superb strikeout totals for over a decade now, and he has finished in the top five of the award voting for eight of the last nine seasons. His numbers with the Los Angeles Dodgers over the last half of the season were incredible, and he posted an incredible 0.864 WHIP over 179.1 innings. The only real concern with Scherzer is age and durability as he will turn 38 in late July.
This pick might be a bit of a head scratcher, but Sandy Alcantara has blossomed into one of the game’s best pitchers. Alcantara led all starters with 14 losses in 2019, but he was an All-Star on the sad Miami Marlins, and he had a nice 2021 campaign despite going 9-15. His 1.075 WHIP was one of the best totals in the majors, and his numbers have improved steadily over the course of his career. Alcantara doesn’t have high strikeout totals, but he doesn’t walk batters or give up a lot of contact.