If the MLB betting season ended today, you’d have to give the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the National League. He has a record of 12-2 this season, with a 1.65 ERA and 0.865 WHIP. He has 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 5.07 strikeouts per walk. He averages 6.9 innings per start. He has not left a game before the end of the sixth inning in any of his 23 starts this season, and he has only allowed more than two runs in a game four times – and only allowed more than three runs twice. He has gone at least six innings without permitting more than one run 16 times – the next best in that area is Jake Arrieta with 12. His numbers are comparable with six of the best pitching seasons in the live ball era: Dwight Gooden in 1985, Bob Gibson in 1968, Greg Maddux in both 1994 and 1995, and Pedro Martinez in both 1999 and 2000.
MLB Betting: Will Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw Win the Cy Young?
But what about Greinke’s teammate Clayton Kershaw? His record and ERA (10-6, 2.39) aren’t nearly as good. However, he has two complete game shutouts and has struck out more than twice as many per nine innings (11.4). Kershaw also leads the National League in strikeouts (205) and innings pitched (162, in a tie with Washington’s Max Scherzer). Since the end of May, Kerhaw has more innings pitched while yielding fewer pitches, runs and walks. He has 41 more strikeouts, and his ERA has been 1.30 over that stretch. He has 9.43 strikeouts per walk (against Greinke’s 5.81) over that time as well. If he can keep this momentum up, he would well eclipse Greinke by the end of the season.
The Nationals’ Max Scherzer may have something to say about all this, of course. His record is a somewhat unsightly 11-8, but a lot of that has to do with run support. His 2.44 ERA is acceptable, but his best numbers are his 8.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio, his three complete games and his two complete game shutouts. He is going to have stop the faltering that has marked his pitching lately, as his last seven starts have produced an ERA of 4.15, and he has not cobbled together a streak of more than two consecutive quality starts since the beginning of July.
Watch out now, but the Mets’ Jacob deGrom is coming hard down the stretch as well. He has an 11-6 record with a frigid 2.03 ERA. He averages 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings and has a strong 5.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also pitches 6.7 innings per start. Over his last 14 starts, he has outperformed Greinke in innings pitched; hits, runs and walks permitted; strikeouts; walks; ERA and WHIP. He doe have 15 1/3 innings fewer than Kershaw for the season because some of his early starts were shorts and the Mets put him at the #5 slot in their rotation after the All-Star break to give him some more rest in his second season. He has already thrown 6 1/3 innings more this year than he did in all of 2014, which means that he may not be able to keep dominating batters during the stretch run.