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5 Dark Horse Candidates for 2014 NL Cy Young Award

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Can These Dark Horse Hurlers Unseat Clayton Kershaw in 2014?

Can Anyone Unseat Clayton Kershaw?
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY SPORTS

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won his second National League Cy Young Award, receiving all but one of the first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He is by far and away the best pitcher the NL has to offer, but will anybody else be able to step up and take the award away from him in 2014?

There are the obvious candidates like Adam Wainwright Jose Fernandez Matt Harvey and Cliff Lee. Despite fantastic seasons from each of the aforementioned runner-ups, none of them were able to take home the honors. Kershaw finished 2013 with an MLB-best 1.83 ERA and 7.9 WAR. He tied for the NL with Wainwright with 19 wins, and led the NL with 232 strikeouts.

There’s no debating that Kershaw should have been the winner of the 2013 NL Cy Young Award. The only travesty is that he was not a unanimous winner. But as the offseason begins to heat up, one has to wonder if there is a dark horse pitcher in the NL that will be able to step up and win the Cy Young Award next season.

This task will be incredibly difficult, but it’s completely possible. The pitchers on this list will most definitely need to improve on their 2013 seasons, but they pitched well enough to make me believe that they have a chance at taking home the award should they vastly improve their statistics. Some of it is out of their hands, however. Some of these pitchers will need to receive better run support from their teams in order to increase their win tallies, which is almost always one of the top statistics that voters look at when they fill their ballots.

Here are five pitchers who may have been outsiders looking in during 2013, but have a decent chance at improving and winning a Cy Young Award of their own next year.

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5. Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks

5. Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks

Patrick Corbin began the 2013 season better than absolutely any pitcher in baseball. He earned wins in each of his first nine decisions, and did not receive a loss until July 2 against the New York Mets. Corbin, however, struggled through the summer months of the season and finished with a 14-8 record and and 3.41 ERA. His late-season struggles also preventing him from receiving a single vote for the 2013 Cy Young Award. If he can piece together an entire season in his early 2013 form, he can definitely contend for Cy Young honors.

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4. Hyun-jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Hyun-jin Ryu1, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SPORTS

Unfortunately for Hyun-jin Ryu, he pitched in the shadows of fellow Los Angeles Dodgers starters Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. However, in just his first season in MLB, Ryu finished with a 14-8 record, 3.00 ERA and a 1.203 WHIP. His 2013 season was not bad at all and if he continues to adjust and improve against MLB hitting, Ryu can become a serious contender for the NL Cy Young Award.

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3. Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

3. Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

One of the most looked-at statistics for Cy Young voters is the strikeout, and Jeff Samardzija has plenty of them. He finished fourth in the NL with 214 punchouts in 2013. He has plenty of facets in his game that needs improvement such as walks, home runs and his ERA, but he’s a raw talent that has the ability to decrease those numbers. Should be able to allow fewer runs while keeping his strikeout tally high, he’ll earn more wins and likely some Cy Young votes next offseason.

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2. Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

2. Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

Rookie Shelby Miller put together a fine 2013 season. He finished 10th in the NL with a 3.06 ERA, sixth in wins with 16 and threw a shutout on May 10 against the Colorado Rockies. He plays on a team that treats its pitching staff wonderfully, and one that provides plenty of run support. Miller should receive plenty of Cy Young votes for years to come.

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1. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

1. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY SPORTS

Madison Bumgarner finished ninth in the 2013 NL Cy Young voting, receiving one fourth-place and one fifth-place vote. He has emerged as the ace of the San Francisco Giants staff, overshadowing Matt Cain and two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. Because the Giants had a poor 2013, Bumgarner was unable to earn many wins, but he did finish fifth in ERA at 2.77 and WHIP at 1.033, and was tied for seventh with 199 strikeouts. Should he be able to increase his win tally, he’ll have an even more serious case for the 2014 NL Cy Young Award.