After a one-week absence, Chris Sale has returned as our lead horse in the AL Cy Young race. Can the southpaw take home the hardware for the first time?

The Good: Chris Sale (Red Sox) and Noah Syndergaard (Mets)

Both pitchers were the lead dogs in Week 1 and Sale returns to the top after a one week absence. He has continued to dominate AL East hitters, striking out a eye-popping 42 batters and walking just six in four starts. His 0.91 ERA ranks third in the AL while his 0.71 WHIP is second.

Syndergaard wasn’t as strong this week as he was in Week 1 and 2, as he allowed three earned runs against the Phillies, but he still struck out 10 batters in the game and has struck out 30 batters this year without surrendering a walk. His ERA is fourth in the NL.

This week’s honorable mentions include Ervin Santana (Twins), Jason Vargas (Royals), Mike Leake (Cardinals) and Max Scherzer (Nationals).

The Bad: Jason Hammel (Royals) and Johnny Cueto (Giants)

Hammel started two games this week and while he pitched well in his first start against the Giants, he was miserable against the Rangers, where he lasted only three innings, allowing four hits and three walks along with a trio of earned runs. To make matters worse, the Royals bullpen was already taxed from a 13-inning game the night before, so Kansas City was depending on him to eat up innings.

Cueto imploded for the struggling Giants this week against Colorado, allowing six runs in just five innings, including a pair that left the park. Even with the generous run support generated by the Giants when he starts, they were unable to make up for his poor performance.

The Ugly: Cody Reed (Reds) and Kevin Gausman (Orioles)

Normally a reliever, Reed was tabbed to start Saturday against the defending world champion Cubs and was throttled for two innings, allowing seven runs off of a grand slam by Willson Contreras and a three-run bomb by Anthony Rizzo. He was moved back to the bullpen after the game.

Gausman has started more games than any pitcher in baseball, but this week was a rough one for him. He started the week off by lasting just eight outs against the Reds, allowing eight runs in the process and ended it with Boston driving him deep three times in 5 1/3 innings of action. Gausman’s 7.50 ERA is the worst among qualified starting pitchers in baseball.

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