Zack Wheeler is the clear frontrunner for the NL Cy Young Award
Until Mother Nature screwed everything up for the Philadelphia Phillies last night as they opened up a very important three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, they were playing their best baseball of the season. It’s pretty remarkable what an eight game win streak can do for a team.
Bryce Harper popped up in MVP talks, The Phillies took over first place in the National League East, and Zack Wheeler, after another stellar performance on Sunday, is a Cy Young candidate. The narrative has now changed. The Phillies went from losing 2-of-3 to essentially a minor league baseball team in the Pittsburgh Pirates, to being the most talked about team in baseball.
Zack Wheeler, as he should be, is the frontrunner to win the National Cy Young Award. In his last outing, if you haven’t heard already, he pitched a two-hit shutout while retiring 22 batters in a row. Wheeler did this on the day that the Phillies inducted Roy Halladay into the Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park. The last person to retire that many hitters in a row? It was none other than the man himself, Doc Halladay, during his perfect game nearly a decade ago.
Wheeler leads the majors in innings (156), strikeouts (181), complete games (3), and shutouts (2). On the season, he has a 2.42 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. He ranks second to only Shohei Ohtani in wins above replacement in the entire MLB.
So knowing all of that information, who else in the National League even has a shot?
When looking around the National League, I would say that his only major competition would be Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler. He’s currently 12-2 with a National League best 2.13 ERA. On the other hand, he’s pitched almost a full game (8 1/3) innings less than Zack Wheeler and has 29 fewer strikeouts.
This isn’t to discredit Buehler, he’s an absolute monster on the mound and has pitched at least six innings in 22-of-23 starts while only allowing two or less runs in 18-of-23 of them. Buehler just doesn’t pitch as deep into games as Wheeler, which is something that should be taken into consideration when looking at Cy Young candidates.
Other considerations for NL Cy Young:
Kevin Gausman (2.31 ERA). Gausman has a 6.11 ERA after the All-Star break and has pitched nearly 25 innings less than Wheeler.
Jacob deGrom who’s been out with a forearm injury has pitched 63 fewer innings than Wheeler.
All three Brewers pitchers have been phenomenal as well, but the innings just can’t compare. Brandon Woodruff (2.33 ERA), Freddy Peralta (2.21 ERA), and Corbin Burnes (2.39 ERA) have the numbers besides the innings. Peralta and Burnes have pitched nearly 40 innings less than Wheeler and Woodruff clocks in at about 20 innings less than Wheeler.
If the Phillies continue to win baseball games and Wheeler continues to pitch like he has all season, there’s really no reason to believe that he won’t easily walk away with some hardware at the end of the year. The Phillies are back in action tonight with Kyle Gibson on the mound facing Dodgers’ pitcher David Price. See you at 7:05pm.
We’re also running a pretty sick giveaway on Twitter, giving away two shirts every night this week. Check the tweet below and get yourself in the running to win.