As the regular season draws to its conclusion we look at the contenders for the National League Cy Young award.
The Miami Marlins' Sandy Alcantara has been the favourite for much of the season but, after a few iffy starts, he's not the lock for the award we thought. Coming up on the rails is Julio Urias (Los Angeles Dodgers) and, with Tony Gonsolin out injured, Atlanta's Max Fried is looking pretty sharp right now.
Some National predictors have dropped Alcantara down to a low of even seven to win the NL Cy Young Award, but he remains favourite for the title. A string of uneven starts have made the race more interesting.
No Marlins pitcher has ever won the Cy Young award and Alcantara has a really good opportunity to become the first one to do exactly that. The 27-year-old Dominican Republic native made one small error which cost him in his last start against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Alcantara kept his ERA at 2.43 which is just slightly behind Julio Urias in second place in the National League standings. With his performance on Tuesday, Alcantara became the first pitcher this season to eclipse the 200-inning mark and the first Marlins pitcher to hit the threshold in consecutive seasons since Dontrelle Willis.
With Tony Gonsolin and Walker Buehler out injured for the remainder of the regular season (in Buehler's case into 2023), Julio Urias has stepped up to be the Dodgers' ace this season. The left-handed pitcher is very reliable and has been getting better and better as the season has progressed and has made himself a huge contender for the award.
Urias has a 17-7 record with a 2.27 ERA which means he now leads the NL in ERA ahead of Alcantara. Team manager Dave Roberts doesn't like Urias to go any more than 5 innings and has often pulled him from the game, part of the tactic is looking at the bigger picture for the lefty. Alcantara for example has thrown at least 45 innings worth of pitchers more than Urias.
Speaking about the Cy Young race, Urias told MLB.com: "No, no. My focus has been to start. Focus on the health, focus on being prepared for the next one. Obviously those numbers speak for themselves when the time comes. But for now, just stay healthy and focus on my next start."
The 25-year-old will represent Mexico in the World Baseball Classic to be held in Japan, Taiwan and the United States in March 2023 next year.
Braves ace Max Fried remains in the hunt for the award. Again, with Alcantara faltering over his last couple of starts, this has opened the door for the likes of Urias and Fried, plus others to attempt to wrestle the apparent crown that the Marlins pitcher held.
Fried has got better as the season has progressed and he has stepped up and guided the Braves to close to where the New York Mets are in the NL East Division. The 28-year-old has helped Atlanta reach just one game behind the Mets and look good to steal the title for the fifth consecutive season.
Although Fried on his last outing allowed two earned runs in his six innings pitched, he still has a competitive ERA of just 2.52.
Arizona Diamondbacks' Zac Gallen (+1200) has the same ERA as Fried, starting exactly the same amount of games, and has forced himself into the reckoning. Gallen lost on Saturday night to the San Diego Padres in a 2-0 defeat.
Gallen had recently set a new record, throwing 44 and a third innings without giving up a run which became an Arizona franchise record and finished with the seventh-longest scoreless streak in AL/NL history surpassing Brandon Webb for both.
The Dodgers' Tyler Anderson is an outsider but has really stepped up this season with Buehler out injured and now Gonsolin. Clayton Kershaw has been erratic and out of action for short periods, but this hasn’t fazed Anderson.
The left-hander picked up his first All-Star selection this season. The 32-year-old has just been placed on the paternity list and is expected back for next Tuesday. Anderson is 15-3 this season with a 2.62 ERA. He has started 25 games and appeared out of the bullpen on a couple of occasions. Anderson will be one of the starters as the Dodgers look to win back their 2020 World Series crown.