The NL Cy Young race: An eight-way contest

Sep 1, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Wade Miley (22) throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning in game one of a doubleheader at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 1, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Wade Miley (22) throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning in game one of a doubleheader at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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Adam Wainwright. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Wainwright. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Wins

There’s no number more old-school than pitching wins. These days, with the rise of tools such as FIP, WHIP and ERA+,  it has fallen out of value as a Cy Young assessment tool, largely due to its dependency on run support and bullpen backing.

Still, if you think wins play no role in Cy Young assessment, consider the case of the Giants’ Logan Webb. At 2.64 with a 157 ERA+, he ranks high in some determinate categories. But Webb has just nine victories; that figure will be  a tough sell for some voters.

Of course wins alone won’t get the job done, either. The current Major League leader in wins is LA’s Julio Urias, with 16. But his numbers in the other categories are pedestrian enough to rule him out as a contender. Kyle Hendricks, third in wins with 14, has the same problem.

Among the serious contenders, the leader is Wainwright with 14 victories for the Cardinals. If he gets five more starts, he has a chance to approach 20 victories, which especially at his age would be  headline accomplishment.

Gausman, Buehler and Scherzer each have 13 victories.

As in the innings pitched category, Milwaukee’s reliance on its bullpen in mid-inning and late-inning situations hurts the candidacies of both Woodruff and Burnes. Each has only nine wins, the  same number as Webb.

Their showings in the ERA, WAR and ERA+ categories prop up their candidacies. But it is a significant question whether they have individually stood out enough to win this award.

                 Pitcher               Wins

1              Wainwright         15

2              Buehler                13

2              Gausman             13

2              Scherzer               13

5              Wheeler               12

5              Miley                     12

7              Woodruff                9

7              Burnes                    9