As recently as mid-August, it was hard to see anyone other than Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu winning the National League Cy Young award.
The Korean left-hander led the NL in ERA by nearly a run at 1.45. His command and deep arsenal of pitches were drawing comparisons to Greg Maddux. He was the clear best pitcher on the NL’s best team. Even though he was behind a little in the innings pitched department because of two trips to the IL, he was still at the top of the bWAR leaderboard.
Now, it’s not so clear who will be taking the Cy Young at the end of this year.
Hyun-Jin Ryu struggles again for Dodgers
For a third straight start, Ryu significantly struggled on the mound for the Dodgers on Thursday. This time, it was allowing seven earned runs and 10 hits in 4.2 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ryu has now allowed a total of 18 earned runs over his last three starts. He had allowed just 14 earned runs since May 1 before that.
In those three starts, Ryu’s ERA has jumped from 1.45 to 2.35. That number still leads the National League, but it’s only a hair ahead of Braves rookie Mike Soroka’s 2.45 mark. And even slipping that much is still very damaging to Ryu’s Cy Young case.
Ryu’s a great pitcher, but he doesn’t rack up strikeouts like some of his competitors. There’s a good chance he doesn’t reach 200 innings for the season. He’s still having an excellent season, but the basis of his argument to win the Cy Young was being miles ahead in the ERA race.
Who could win the NL Cy Young now?
Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer was the clear alternative Ryu for some time, but two trips to the IL have caused him to record only four starts since July 1. Even with a strong 2.46 ERA and his usual mind-boggling strikeout numbers, that could be too much time missed to win the award.
The rookie Soroka might also have a case, but he’d need Ryu to fall off a little more, considering the Dodgers southpaw is still ahead of him in innings, ERA and strikeouts. Scherzer’s Nationals teammate Patrick Corbin has also been surging lately and could make a late push.
However, if there’s a new favorite, it’s probably the defending champion: Jacob deGrom. The New York Mets ace ranks fourth in the NL in ERA at 2.66, has thrown more innings (169) than anyone in the top 15 and tops in the NL in strikeouts with 207.
There is still a month left in the season and as many as six starts left for some pitchers, but the Cy Young race is already looking much more open than anyone thought it would just a few weeks ago.
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