For the first time this season, Mets ace Noah Syndergaard doesn’t top the list as our favorite for the NL Cy Young Award. Syndergaard had a rough outing on Sunday before it was revealed that the flamethrower had a partially torn lat muscle and will be out indefinitely.
The Good: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) and Chris Sale (Red Sox)
Chris Sale continues his dominant stretch, even when his team can’t knock in runs to help him out. Against the Yankees, Sale went eight innings, allowing three runs (two earned) no walks and striking out 10. His 52 strikeouts are the most in baseball and opposing hitters are batting just .177 against him. Unfortunately, he needs to be near perfect when he starts because his offense isn’t helping him out. Boston is scoring just two runs per game when he starts, which ranks 48th out of 51 qualified pitchers in the American League.
While Kershaw’s 2.29 ERA doesn’t look as impressive as other pitchers in the league, like Mike Leake or Gio Gonzalez, what separates him is the fact that he is the only pitcher in the National League to be in the top 10 in innings pitched (35.1), strikeouts (39), wins (four), WHIP (0.792) and ERA. Advanced metrics are also kind to Kershaw as his 2.71 xFIP is third behind Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.
Honorable mentions include Ervin Santana (Twins), Dallas Keuchel (Astros), Leake (Cardinals) and Ivan Nova (Pirates).
The Bad: Noah Syndergaard (Mets) and Felix Hernandez (Mariners)
Both of these pitchers went to the disabled list after a horrific outing. For Syndergaard, it was obvious during the game that he wasn’t himself. “Thor” lasted four outs and allowed five runs. His ERA inflated from 1.73 to 3.29. The good news is that Syndergaard only suffered a partial tear. Teammate Steven Matz suffered a similar injury which sidelined him for two months, so Syndergaard could be back at the end of June, or, more likely, after the All-Star break so he can have more time to rehab.
All season, Hernandez has not looked like his normal self. His strikeouts per nine innings was on pace to match last year’s career-low, he was allowing an astronomical 2.0 home runs per nine innings and his 1.575 WHIP is the worst of his career. Against Detroit on April 25, he lasted just two innings, allowing four runs. He was hit hard, allowing seven fly balls compared to three grounders. Seattle did find out some good news, however, as the team did an exam on Hernandez’s injured shoulder and it was “much better than expected”, possibly pointing to an early return.
The Ugly: Jered Weaver (Padres) and Steven Wright (Red Sox)
Weaver has struggled with San Diego. The Padres have lost all five of his starts, and he has allowed multiple runs in each outing, including a league-high 10 home runs. In all but one start, he has allowed multiple home runs.
When David Price returns, it looks likely that Wright will be the odd man out of the rotation. Wright has been abysmal in his last two starts, allowing nine runs in 10 innings pitched and two home runs in both outings. Against Chicago, he surrendered 15 fly balls to seven grounders.