Published On: Tue, May 1st, 2018

NL Cy Young Power Rankings: Mad Max is setting a frantic pace

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At the end of each month, theScore’s MLB editors will break down the leading candidates for the MVP and Cy Young awards in the American and National Leagues. Today, we’re ranking the early favorites for the 2018 NL Cy Young.

5. Noah Syndergaard, Mets

34.2 2.86 1.01 11.94 1.2

Mighty Thor has not seen any lingering effects from the lat tear that forced him to miss most of last season. He’s punching out a silly amount of opponents and has the lowest walk rate among baseball’s top 30 strikeout artists in the early going. He may be on the verge of becoming his best self.

Command plus power and velocity equals great success. The funny thing is, despite how impressive Syndergaard‘s been, he may not even be the most devastating arm in the Mets’ rotation. That title belongs to:

4. Jacob deGrom, Mets

39.1 2.06 1.04 10.98 1.4

The Mets’ co-ace is on the rise even without his traditional flowing locks. DeGrom has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts, and has helped fans forget – or at the very least, ignore – Matt Harvey‘s unfortunate slide to the bullpen.

He’s missing bats at the best rate of his five-year career, too. He trails only Max Scherzer (naturally) and Caleb Smith (what?) in zone contact percentage among National League starters.

3. Johnny Cueto, Giants

32 0.84 0.69 7.31 0.9

A 0.84 ERA is unsustainable, especially given Cueto‘s relative lack of strikeouts and an absurdly low .185 BABIP against him, but it’s still a major course correction from a 2017 that saw him yield a career-worst .322 BABIP.

Regardless, Cueto has been the Giants’ saving grace on a season snakebitten by early injuries to rotation pieces Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija. Through five starts, Cueto has pitched at least six innings, sparing the bullpen in addition to carrying the rotation’s load.

2. Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks

40 2.25 0.75 12.38 1.0

It looks like you may be waiting a while if you’re anticipating a steep drop in production from the Arizona lefty. Corbin nearly no-hit the San Francisco Giants – matched up against the aforementioned Cueto – and has kept on rolling since.

He’s 4-0 and demonstrating his best command since returning from Tommy John surgery, issuing only seven walks in 40 innings.

1. Max Scherzer, Nationals

39 1.62 0.82 13.15 1.6

If someone wants to usurp Mad Max from his throne atop pitcher mountain, Scherzer‘s going to make him work for it.

Scherzer has been predictably dominant through his first six starts, going 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA (1.77 FIP) while striking out a league-best 38 percent of batters he’s faced thanks in large part to an incredible 18.2 percent swinging strike rate. That’s best in the bigs, kids. He’s unbelievable. Scherzer has already won back-to-back Cy Young trophies and is pitching the best of his entire career in the early going.

He’s completed fewer than six innings only once – his lone loss – and hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any start. If that wasn’t enough, Scherzer has punched out 10 or more four different times, and has only been taken deep twice.

Honorable mention: Nick Pivetta (Phillies), Aaron Nola (Phillies), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

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