There might not be tougher competition for any award in baseball than NL Cy Young. Even without Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer at full-strength, the list of competitors is incredible.
Last-year’s winner Corbin Burnes and runner-up Zack Wheeler are dominating once again. Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez have been almost unhittable for the Marlins. Joe Musgrove is leading the Padres pitching staff. Max Fried has continued to develop as an ace for the Atlanta Braves. And I haven’t even mentioned any of the Dodgers superstars. The Cy Young shortlist is a tough one to crack.
All that being said, the Cardinals boast two legitimate dark-horse candidates. Once again, Adam Wainwright is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s top ten in ERA, innings pitched, and home runs per nine innings. And Waino is just outside the top ten in WAR, hits per nine, and WHIP.
It’s a long season, and part of what wins a Cy Young is being dominant throughout the entire 162 games. If the season ended today, Wainwright would not be in the discussion for the top pitcher in the league. If he continues to be consistent, however, and mixes in a few dominating outings, he will only rise up the leaderboard.
The surprising feature to this section is Wainwright ranks second in most pitching categories among Cardinals starters. The leader is none other than Miles Mikolas. Mikolas is also top ten in the NL in ERA and innings pitched. In addition, Mikolas is top ten in WHIP, adjusted ERA+, and 11th in WAR. Not to mention that he’s one of only five NL starters with a complete game– and that doesn’t include the almost no-hitter from Tuesday night.
Like Wainwright, Mikolas has a long road ahead to be included in the Cy Young conversation. The voters and the metrics both favor high strikeout guys, which disadvantages the Cardinals pitch-to-contact method. However, it’s fun to track how these two aces stack up against the rest of the league. And who knows? A few more months of domination, and both Wainwright and Mikolas could see their names on a piece of hardware.