The Senior Circuit had a very close Cy Young race last season when Zack Greinke’s 1.66 ERA and 19-3 record went against Jake Arrieta’s 1.77 ERA and 22-6 record and Clayton Kershaw’s 300 strikeouts. Arrieta beat out Greinke and Kershaw in the end but if it was any other year, there’s a good chance any of the other two would’ve won it. So who will be the NL Cy Young in 2016? This year’s class will have a tough job of surpassing the statistics of last year’s finalists, but who knows?
Past Cy Young Winners
Bartolo Colón (2005 Angels; Padres): The 42-year-old Bartolo Colón will be returning to the Mets this year where he’s expected to fill that back-end rotation spot until Zack Wheeler returns in 2016. His most recent productive season was 2013 when was an All-Star. After Wheeler returns, Colón won’t have a spot in the young Mets’ rotation and it’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to contend for the Cy Young at age 42.
Jake Peavy (2007 Padres; Giants): Peavy won his Cy Young almost a decade ago, and he’s never been as dominant since. He’s still a solid pitcher who can eat up innings towards the middle or back of the rotation, but the 3x All-Star isn’t looking like his 2007 Cy Young self in the past few years. If he stays healthy though, the Giants will surely benefit from having a veteran presence on a team that’s attempting to win its fourth championship since 2010.
Zack Greinke (2009 Royals; Diamondbacks): Greinke nearly won the Cy Young last year, but Arrieta’s second half stats were beyond exceptional. Greinke still put up historic numbers across the board, and he has consistently put up dominant numbers wherever he pitched. This year, he’ll look to repeat his success as the ace of the Arizona Diamondbacks. There’s no signs of him slowing down or deteriorating, so expect Greinke to resume his All-Star status as he seeks to grab his second Cy Young in 2016.
Clayton Kershaw (2011, 2013, 2014 Dodgers): Kershaw is a 3-time winner and has placed in the top three for several years in a row now, that is, whenever he managed not to win it. In 2014, he not only won the Cy Young, but also the MVP award. Kershaw struck out over 300 hitters last year in a brilliant season. Kershaw looks to further provide evidence as one of the greatest left-handers in the history of baseball this year as he looks to take his Dodgers to that next level.
Max Scherzer (2013 Tigers; Nationals): In Scherzer’s first season in the NL, he pitched two no-hitters with the Nationals. His past three seasons have been stellar and he’ll look to continue his dominance and lead the Nationals to a rebound. Expect Scherzer to be right up there with league leaders in major statistical categories as he aims to secure his team a spot in the playoffs and possibly get rewarded with a second Cy Young award.
Jake Arrieta (2015 Cubs): Did anyone expect Arrieta to be this dominant in 2015? There are always pitchers that come out of the blue and have a historic season. Both the AL winner and NL winners in 2015 fit that category. Arrieta will try to once again lead a rotation that also features Jon Lester and John Lackey and lead the Cubs to that World Series that everyone is predicting them to go to.
Other Possible Candidates
Matt Harvey, Mets: Harvey had a rebound season last year after losing all of 2014. He’ll attempt to reach greater heights with a regular offseason. After the Mets went to the World Series on an amazing run in the second half of the season, a lot of that had to do with Harvey. Harvey shouldn’t have an innings cap this season and the Mets will rely on his presence to lead a young Mets rotation.
Jose Fernandez, Marlins: After a dominant rookie season in 2013, Fernandez has been plagued with the injury bug ever since. He has yet to pitch a full season since his rookie year. That’s the big “if”, however. If Fernandez manages to stay healthy for the entire season, his numbers will support him as he looks to capture his first Cy Young award.
Johnny Cueto, Giants: He’s been one of the most dominant starters in the NL for years now with the Cincinnati Reds. After taking a brief trip to Kansas City and winning the World Series, he’ll try to help San Francisco win a world championship in an even year. Cueto didn’t do all that well in the American League, but a return to the National League should help his case for his first Cy Young.
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: In a contract year, Strasburg, I predict, will have his best season yet. We’ve seen how great pitchers have done exceptional while in their final year of the contract so they can be in line for a humongous paycheck. Take David Price and Zack Greinke this year. Both were runners-up to the eventual Cy Young in a contract year and both reaped around $200 million dollars. Strasburg will the crown jewel of next year’s free agent market. Regardless of how he performs this year, Stephen will get paid handsomely. But if he puts together a career year, Strasburg will gain a long-term contract worth tens of millions.
Madison Bumgarner, Giants: After having a breakout year in 2014 and in the World Series, Bumgarner had a solid year in 2015. It wasn’t as big of a step forward as many would have liked, but Bumgarner is still the head of the Giants staff, even with the additions of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. It’s an even year, so every single San Fran Giant could have monster seasons, so who knows? If Bumgarner can really well and lead his Giants back to the postseason, he will get noticed.
Predicted Finalists: Strasburg, Scherzer, Kershaw
Predicted Winner: Max Scherzer
What do you guys think? Are there any other possible candidates you think have a good shot? Jacob deGrom? Jeff Samardzija? Who will win the NL Cy Young?