It won’t be any surprise to anybody that Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is on the short list of early season NL Cy Young award candidates. Kershaw has been outstanding out of the gates for Los Angeles. There is no doubt he is the sports betting favorite to win the NL Cy Young, especially considering how the competition has played out through the first few weeks of the season. Here is a look at the top early season candidates to win the National League Cy Young award.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw is healthy and performing at an elite level right now. The three-time Cy Young award winner is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and a 9.80 K/9 so far this season. Kershaw has allowed more than two earned runs in a game only twice in seven starts. On four occasions he has held his opponent to four hits or less. The six-time All-Star has pitched at an elite level when healthy throughout his career. As long as Kershaw stays off the DL, he will remain the obvious favorite to win the NL Cy Young award this season. It also helps his case that the Dodgers once again look like a playoff contender. They have a strong team that should help him win many games this season.
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
It’s impossible to overlook Scherzer in the early season NL Cy Young award conversation. Is it really all that shocking that Scherzer and Kershaw are the two players leading the way already?
Scherzer is 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. His 11.47 K/9 is right up there with deGrom. The fact that he plays for the Nationals enhances his Cy Young potential. He should continue to rack up the wins with one of the most talented lineups in the majors providing plenty of run support. The Nats have been the best team in the National League so far this season, so Scherzer is going to get plenty of opportunities to earn wins.
He has been consistently dominant over the past couple of years. Perhaps this is the season that he finally earns a Cy Young nod.
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
The 28-year-old lefty deGrom might be Kershaw’s top competition for the NL Cy Young award this season. He is just 2-1 but has recorded a 3.80 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP and a 12.66 K/9 so far this season. There is no doubt about deGrom’s ability to attack hitters with his strikeout ability as he leads the NL in that department. However, deGrom will need more support from the Mets in order to stay in the conversation from a wins perspective.
Last year, the issue for them was offense and that appears to have carried over into 2017. Beyond that, they seem to have some turmoil ranging from injuries (once again) to chemistry issues (Matt Harvey).
With some of their other starters banged up right now, New York will need deGrom to perform at an elite level in order to have any shot at contending for a playoff spot this season. If the Mets don’t compete for a playoff spot, it’ll be hard for deGrom to make his case. He’ll have good numbers but they probably won’t best what Kershaw and Scherzer are doing in the box scores.
Mike Leake, St. Louis Cardinals
Leake is easily the most surprising name on this list. However, the numbers support his presence in the conversation. Leake is 4-1 with an outstanding 1.79 ERA and a miniscule 0.94 WHIP. He hasn’t blown away hitters by striking them out but no NL pitcher has done a better job keeping the ball in the park and letting his defense take care of their business. Leake might not be the conventional NL Cy Young award candidate. However, the numbers show that he definitely deserves to be in the early season conversation following an excellent start to the year. The Cardinals struggled to start the year but are now atop the National League Central. Leake is one of the main reasons why and he deserves to be in the conversation for the Cy Young award.
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