10 Players on Early Track for 2014 Cy Young Award

2014 Cy Young Award: 10 Early Candidates

Jose Fernandez Miami Marlins
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Five weeks into the 2014 MLB season, most starting pitchers are about to reach 50 innings pitched and trends are beginning to develop. The one pitcher of note who has gone over 50 innings is Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds. While Cueto has been brilliant, he is about to face some serious regression and will have stiff competition for the NL Cy Young. Here are five AL and five NL pitchers on track for the 2014 Cy Young Award.

10. Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto Cincinnati Reds
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10. Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto Cincinnati Reds
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Johnny Cueto has pitched 55 incredible innings with a 1.31 ERA and 0.73 WHIP to go along with 60 strikeouts. Cueto would be the early leader for the award, but no matter how good he is, no one can maintain this kind of pace. Cueto is yet to allow a base-runner to score, while opposing batters have hit just .153 against him on balls in play. This good fortune won't continue, which is why his FIP is up at 3.16.

9. Yordano Ventura

Yordano Ventura Kansas City Royals
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9. Yordano Ventura

Yordano Ventura Kansas City Royals
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Armed with a fastball that touches 100 along with a changeup, cutter and curveball, Yordano Ventura has gotten off to a blazing start in his rookie season. In 36 innings pitched, Ventura has 41 strikeouts, a 2.00 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. The peripheral numbers back him up as well, with a 2.55 FIP and 2.96 xFIP.

8. Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke Los Angeles Dodgers
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8. Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke Los Angeles Dodgers
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Zack Greinke continues to be one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, and 2014 is looking like it may be one of the best seasons of his career. Greinke currently has the highest strikeout rate of his career at 11.03 K/9 and has paired that up with a minuscule 1.64 BB/9. Overall, Greinke has a 2.35 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 38.1 innings pitched. While wins should be an afterthought in Cy Young voting, playing for the Dodgers doesn't hurt.

7. Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka New York Yankees
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7. Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka New York Yankees
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Heading into the season, one would have thought that it would be nearly impossible for Masahiro Tanaka to live up to the massive hype that was built up around him in the offseason, but he has done just that and more. Tanaka has been a strikeout machine, with 51 in 42.2 innings pitched while issuing just six walks total. His ERA stands at 2.53 with a 0.96 WHIP and his numbers are backed up by a 3.34 FIP and 2.16 xFIP.

6. Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana Atlanta Braves
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6. Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana Atlanta Braves
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Ervin Santana did not sign this offseason until the middle of March and was supposedly only considering offers from National League teams. Smart man. Pitching in the NL for the first time in his career, Santana has carved up hitters (and probably a few pitchers) with a 2.41 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 33.2 innings pitched. He’s striking out batters at a career-high rate (9.62 K/9) and is keeping his walks to a minimum (2.14 BB/9) while allowing 2 HR.

5. Jon Lester

Jon Lester Boston Red Sox
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5. Jon Lester

Jon Lester Boston Red Sox
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As a free agent at the end of the year, Jon Lester has gone out and had the best start of his career. Looking like a true dominant ace, Lester has an impeccable K/BB ratio of 5.80 with 58 strikeouts in 48.2 innings pitched, leading to a 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. If he can keep up this pace, his numbers are only going to improve as the year goes on.

4. Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee Philadelphia Phillies
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4. Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee Philadelphia Phillies
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At 35 years old, Cliff Lee is still doing his thing, striking out batters at a rate of 8.45 K/9 while limiting his walks to just 1.16 BB/9 in 54.1 innings pitched. Lee has been unlucky on balls in play, leading to 63 hits allowed and a 1.29 WHIP, but these numbers will regress as the season goes along. Lee’s FIP is a Cy Young worthy 2.81 with an even better 2.71 xFIP, and he remains one of the best pitchers in baseball.

3. Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez Seattle Mariners
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3. Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez Seattle Mariners
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King Felix continues to get better with age and is doing everything one would expect from an ace. He’s limited his home runs allowed to just 0.51 HR/9 to go along with 9.06 K/9 and 2.05 BB/9 in 52.2 innings pitched. Felix has an ERA of 2.73 with a 1.10 WHIP and should firmly remain in the conversation for the Cy Young Award all season long.

2. Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez Miami Marlins
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2. Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez Miami Marlins
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In just his second season in MLB, Jose Fernandez has been otherworldly so far in 2014. He has struck out 65 batters in 46.2 innings pitched, allowing just 12 walks and two home runs along the way. He currently holds a 1.74 ERA, but his FIP suggests he’s been even better at 1.64, while his xFIP is a little more reasonable at 2.04. No matter what metric you check, though, it may not be possible to pitch better than Fernandez has.

1. Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer Detroit Tigers
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1. Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer Detroit Tigers
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Max Scherzer is doing everything he needs to in order to secure a second consecutive Cy Young Award. His strikeout rate has bumped up to a career-high 11.49 K/9, and he continues to limit his walks at just 2.30 BB/9 in 47 innings pitched. His 1.72 ERA is going to go up eventually, but not by a lot if he can keep up his current pace.

Around the Web

  • bulls2213

    How does the AL wins leader, who also happens to sport a 1.91 ERA, not even crack the top 10???? Mark Buehrle is criminally one of the most underrated, unheralded, consistent, durable starting pitchers of all time, and this list is further proof.

  • dbutler3

    how about adam wainwright