MLB's All-Star break is a critical point in the season. It allows the players to rest, and everybody else can analyze the first half of the season. There has been incredible pitching thus far, and it is really too close at the top to pick a definitive Cy Young winner now. So take a look at some of the top candidates for the award entering the last half of the season:
AL Cy Young
Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
Thus far, Keuchel has been outstanding for the surprising Astros, leading the AL in wins, innings pitched, and quality starts. At 11-4, it’s hard to argue against a player who’s won so many games with such a low ERA and a solid 114 strikeouts. His 4.7 WAR is a considerable AL pitching best, showing just how valuable he has been.
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Right now for Sale, wins are lacking because of the White Sox inability to put up runs, for the most part. But he surely makes up for it in his domination in striking out batters and limiting hits and walks. Of qualifying pitchers, his 11.84 K/9 and 0.95 WHIP are the league’s best. He’s had a few rough outings, but eight straight games of 10+ strikeouts cannot be overlooked. Sale is league best in creating swing-and-misses with his pitches, which has contributed to much of his success. The White Sox defense has also been among the league’s worst, which should only help bolster his case.
Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics
Quietly in Oakland, Sonny Gray has been among the MLB’s best on the AL’s worst team by record. He currently leads the league in ERA at 2.04 with a .198 BAA, and Gray is tied for third in wins, just one behind the leaders. Among the 20+ pitchers with over 100 innings logged, he has let up the least amount of home runs (5). With such good pitching atop the AL, he will really need to be extra special to stand out even more.
Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays
Both Archer and Sale have made headlines because of their strikeout ability, as Archer ranks second in K/9. Archer has one more win than Sale and a very comparable ERA, so deciding between them two is extremely difficult to call right now. However, Sale’s impressive strikeout feat might is enough to separate them at the current moment.
Others to watch: David Price, Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
As of late, Scherzer has been described as the league’s best pitcher, mostly because of his one-hitter followed by a no-hitter in mid-June. But he’s been extremely good all year, posting the lowest WHIP (0.80) in the most innings pitched in the NL (132.0). He has posted the second most strikeouts and the third lowest ERA. The only knock on him is seven losses. He only had eight losses in 2013 and 2014 combined. His strikeout to walk ratio is an impressive 10.71; the next best in the NL isn't above eight.
Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
April 29th, fifth inning: the last time Zack Greinke’s ERA was above 2.00. If Zack Greinke can maintain his ERA throughout the second half, it would be hard to imagine him not winning the Cy Young. His 1.39 ERA is clear best and a 0.84 WHIP shows this is no mistake. He only has eight wins, but he didn’t win seven games where he pitched at least six innings and gave up one run at most. Clayton Kershaw won the Cy Young last year with a 1.77 ERA, and that seemed incredible. It would be the best season ERA since 1968, and it’s the lowest through the All Star break in the last 30 years.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw has won three of the past four Cy Young awards, so he should certainly not be kept out of this list. With a shutout in his last start before the All Star break, he snuck his ERA below 3.00 for the first time all season. To end the first half of the season, he’s pitched nine straight quality starts. He’s also the league leader in strikeouts (160) with just a 1.02 WHIP. Look out for him in the second half because his stats now don’t tell the whole story.
Others to watch: Jacob DeGrom, A.J. Burnett