MLB Awards: Top Contenders for 2017 NL Cy Young Award

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Clayton Kershaw /
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5. Aaron Nola: Philadelphia Phillies

On the surface, Aaron Nola may not seem like the typical Cy Young candidate. However, he had a solid 2017 campaign, establishing himself as one of the top young MLB arms going forward.

Nola had struggled last year, posting a 6-9 record with a 4.78 ERA in his 20 starts for the Phillies in 2016. Even with those issues, he showed a good deal of potential, striking out over a batter per inning while issuing less than 2.5 walks per nine. His FIP was nearly two runs lower than his actual ERA, giving hope as to the pitcher he could develop into.

That next step forward came this season. Toiling for a miserable Phillies squad, he made a case as one of the better starters in the game. His 12-11 record was misleading, particularly given the Phillies performance this year. Ignoring the record, Nola still had a solid 3.54 ERA and a 1.208 WHiP, striking out 184 batters against 49 walks in 168 innings.

As the Phillies look to return to contention in the next few years, Nola will be a key part of that resurrection. He already looks like a future ace despite being just 24 years old and only having four seasons as a professional. Given his production this year, Nola’s time as a Cy Young candidate may only be starting.

Aaron Nola was easily the best pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. He was also one of the best MLB pitchers last year, albeit under the radar.