The playoff races are not the only thing for fans to pay attention to as the 2022 MLB winds down. There are also some intriguing battles for some key end of the year awards such as CY Young, MVP, and Rookie of the Year.
I dove into the top AL CY Young contenders last week, and now will look at the top contenders for that award in the Senior Circuit. While the race for the top pitching award appears to be up for grabs in the American League, the National League’s prize is Miami’s Sandy Alcantara’s to lose. All stats are through August 7.
1.Sandy Alcantara, Marlins
Alcantara has been the shiniest star in what has been a ho-hum season for Miami. The Marlins are 10 games under .500 and are essentially out of the expanded playoff race as they are in ninth place in the league, 10.5 games out of the final playoff spot.
Alcantara is the leading candidate for the NL CY Young Award and for good reason as he has been sensational all season long. The 26-year-old right-handed was masterful in his last outing, recording his Major League high third complete game in a 3-0 victory over Cincinnati on Wednesday. He scattered six hits while walking one and registering three strikeouts against the Reds.
Alcantara leads the NL in several categories and has gotten stronger as the season has gone on. He has allowed just 22 hits along with eight runs in his last 43 innings of work over six starts while also recording 41 strikeouts.
Alcantara, who has failed to throw six innings in just four of 22 starts, is 10-4 on the season with a 1.88 ERA along with a 0.93 WHIP, .195 batting average against, and 141 strikeouts in 158.1 innings. The two-time all-star tops the Senior Circuit in WAR, ERA, Innings, and adjusted ERA.
2. Max Fried, Braves
Fried has been excellent, not dominant, this season. Opponents have been able to hit the 28-year-old consistently, but Fried has been able to limit the damage by not giving up walks or the long ball. He has also been pretty reliable, reaching the 5th inning in each of his 22 starts while allowing three or fewer runs in 14 of those contests.
Fried is 10-4 with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. The first time all-star leads the Senior Circuit in fewest homers per 9 innings and ranks second in WAR and second in walks per nine innings.
3. Corbin Burnes, Brewers
Burnes relies a ton on power and sometimes struggles throwing strikes, resulting in a high pitch count. A high pitch count has been problematic for the reigning CY Young Award winner recently with Burnes unable to get past the sixth innings in any of his last four starts. The Pitch count hasn’t been the only thing that has been troublesome for Burnes as walks and the long ball has also bit him during this stretch.
His numbers aren’t too far off from a season ago. Burnes is holding opponents to a .183 average and leads the majors with 175 strikeouts. However, he has already issued four more walks, surrendered nine more homers, and hit four more batters than all of last season.
4. Zach Wheeler, Phillies
The 2021 CY Young Award runner- up has pitched extremely well over the last six starts except for a 8-2 mid July loss to Toronto where he allowed six runs on seven hits in just 4.2 innings of work. Wheeler, 4-1 during this stretch, has limited his opponents to 11 hits and four runs while posting a seven-to- one K/BB ratio in the other four games.
Wheeler is 10-5 on the season with a 2.69 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and .218 batting average against. The NL’s May Pitcher of the Month ranks fourth in WAR amongst pitchers, sixth in ERA, sixth in Adjusted ERA, and fourth in Independent Fielding Pitching.
5. Carlos Rodon, Giants
Rodon has followed a career season with the White Sox last year with a strong first season in the National League. The 29-year-old lefty has bounced back, from two of his roughest starts of the campaign in losses to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks recently, by limiting his last two opponents to just seven hits and one run as he recorded 13 strikeouts in 12.1 innings of work.
Rodon is 10-6 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, a .209 batting average against, and 161 strikeouts. He tops the league in Fielding Independent Pitching and ranks second in the in strikeouts and strikeout per nine innings. Rodon, who finished fifth in the AL CY Young voting, is also fifth in WAR amongst pitchers and 10th in ERA.
6. Julio Urias, Dodgers
Urias, No. 7 in CYA voting a year ago, has pitched very well this year. He has been in good form over his last five starts, allowing just eight runs on 21 hits over 28 innings. Giving up home runs —1.2 per nine innings —has been his biggest bugaboo this year.
7. Aaron Nola, Phillies
Nola has pitched better than his .500 record would indicate. He doesn’t walk many hitters, limits the long ball, records a lot of strikeouts and does eat up a lot of innings.
Nola is having one of the best seasons of his career, ranking third in league in WAR among pitchers. He is fourth in hits and walks per inning, fourth in strikeouts, and third in Fielding Independent Pitching, However, Nola has had his fair share of clunkers as the 29-year-old righty has surrendered at least four runs in seven of his 22 starts.
Honorable Mention ( No particular order)
Max Scherzer, Tony Gonsolin, Mike Mikolas, Tyler Anderson, Yu Darvish