The Cy Young is the most sought-after award for Major League pitchers on an individual level, and over the past few seasons we’ve seen players like David Price, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Corey Kluber take home the award. Indeed, it is a very tough one to win. There is no shame in not winning such a fantastic honor either, as there have been many Hall of Fame players who had never taken home the award, but if a pitcher wants to be considered an elite pitcher in the game of baseball, they must solidify themselves as a Cy Young contender. Today we will take a look at eight lucky pitchers who will take home the award, and seven who won’t be so lucky.
15. Will: Archie Bradley
Archie Bradley is definitely the rawest pitcher on this list, as he hasn’t yet rounded out his game, but with a smooth, repeatable action and an impressive yet developing repertoire, he could become an elite pitcher for the Diamondbacks in the next few years behind Shelby Miller and Zack Greinke. With pitchers like Clayton Kershaw ageing within the National League, it may be time for the young stars to take over, and if Bradley can develop the way that the D-Backs are hoping for, he could be the leader of this team and a future All-Star in the National League. This is probably the least likely to happen of anyone on this list, as Bradley is very young and we haven’t had a true look at his potential in the Majors yet. But if he can exceed the D-Backs expectations, he will be a multiple time All-Star and a potential Cy Young winner.
14. Won’t: Stephen Strasburg
When Stephen Strasburg made his much awaited MLB debut in 2010, he struck out a blistering 14 Pirates en route to a victory, and the “most hyped draft-pick in baseball history” looked like he would become the biggest thing baseball had seen for quite some time. Unfortunately, later in that season, he found himself on the shelf looking at Tommy John surgery, and although he has come back and had some strong seasons, he is no longer the star in the Nationals rotation, as he has never quite looked like the same, dominant Strasburg. With Max Scherzer now at the heart of the team’s pitching staff, Strasburg may not get the same attention, and with all the young talented arms in the National League, it’s unlikely that Strasburg will ever reach those incredibly lofty expectations put on him seven years ago.
13. Will: Danny Salazar
When the Cleveland Indians entered the 2016 postseason, the hopes of fans weren’t too high, as they were missing Michael Brantley and two of their star pitchers, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, and although that may make them seem less important, Salazar could be one of the game’s best pitchers in a few years time. Come 2017, he will be the leader on an Indians rotation that includes Carrasco and former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, and if he can recover from his injury and continue to improve, he will join Kluber by winning this prestigious award in the not too distant future. If he does improve the way most people within the league think, he will not only take home a Cy Young, but he could also take the Indians one step further than they went in 2016.
12. Won’t: Jacob DeGrom
Two years ago, it looked like Jacob DeGrom was going to be the best pitcher in the game, as his appearance in the All-Star game was the stuff of legend. But due to an injury riddled season later, his place within the elite pitchers in the game is now up for question. With Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Noah Syndegaard in the rotation around him, it may be harder for DeGrom to stand out like he once did, and with the amount of elite pitchers in the National League, DeGrom may never reach the heights he once had when he broke into the league. This isn’t to say that Jacob may never have success in the Majors, but his once lofty expectations may never be reached as an individual. Still, it can be said that with such a talented, young rotation, the sky is the limit for this New York Mets team.
11. Will: Aaron Sanchez
The Toronto Blue Jays’ recent success has been predicated on their offense led by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnácion, but as those two age (and leave), the team has to find new ways to succeed, and they just might have found a way to build a great rotation, on the backs of Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez,. Sanchez may not have been one of the most touted pitchers coming out of the minors, but if his success last season is any indication, he will be a national superstar and an All-Star in 2017. Beyond that, Sanchez definitely has the talent to take the Blue Jays back to the World Series, and if he continues to develop and improve at the rapid rate he currently is, a Cy Young is almost a certainty within the next few years.
10. Won’t: Matt Harvey
For much the same reasoning as Jacob DeGrom, Matt Harvey has been passed over as the number one in the Mets rotation, and after recovering from several injury riddled seasons, no one knows what the future holds for the Dark Knight. If he chooses to opt out of the Mets and go on to greener pastures, it’s possible that Harvey regains the form that made him the most formidable young pitcher in the game, and with some maturity, that could possibly lead to some individual awards. But as it stands it, looks like the potential for Harvey to again be an elite pitcher in the game has passed him by, and very similar to DeGrom, he may again be a very helpful contributor to a successful team. But on an individual level, awards such as the Cy Young may be out of the picture.
9. Will: Kyle Hendricks
Kyle Hendricks had an outstanding year for the Cubs last year, and it seemed to come out of nowhere, offering the amazing Cubs team yet another weapon to lead them to their first World Series victory in 108 years. Behind big names like Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, Hendricks stood out, and even finished the year with the lowest ERA in the Majors. Although some may look at it as a fluke, this may be Hendricks’ coming out party, as he could potentially keep this up for several years to go. With the Cubs looking strong to continue their success, Hendricks will only gain more and more of the spotlight, and if he is up to the task, could be one of the best pitchers in the game over the next five years.
8. Won’t: Carlos Martinez
Carlos Martinez has been tabbed as the Cardinals’ opening day starter for 2017, and while that’s a fantastic honor in itself, it doesn’t mean that Martinez will be able to live up to the lofty expectations that the St. Louis organization and fans have placed upon him. That’s not to say that the young star won’t receive his fair share of honors, as he will no doubt be the ace of this staff going forward, and while that may result in some All-Star appearances, there is a difference in consistency between an All-Star caliber pitcher and a Cy Young award winner. Like most on this list, this isn’t a knock on the ability of Martinez, but with the competition for such a prestigious award ramping up each year, there are some great pitchers who will be just that, meaning those who don’t win big awards such as this.
7. Will: Yu Darvish
Fans knew about the hype surrounding Yu Darvish when he made his debut from Japan several years ago. While he has been a consistently dominant force for the Rangers, many feel that he is yet to hit his stride, and that could happen in 2017. After an injury-riddled past few seasons, Darvish is looking healthy, and so far in spring training, he has looked like the early, dominant Darvish. So if he can control all his pitches, the ace of a very impressive Rangers staff could be in for a stellar season. With the Rangers poised to finally reach the World Series again, Darvish will be at the heart of that success, and if he doesn’t take home a Cy Young in 2017, it will happen within the next two years.
6. Won’t: Cole Hamels
“Hollywood” Cole Hamels has been one of the game’s best and most underrated pitchers over the past decade, and it looked like he was going to waste away the remainder of his career on a Phillies team with no true playoff aspirations. But after he joined Yu Darvish on a very impressive and complete Rangers team, everyone began again talking about the talent of Hamels. Despite the team success the Rangers are aspiring for in a weakened AL West, Hamels will never again reach the peak form that is needed to win a Cy Young, and with young stars like Dallas Keuchel and Danny Salazar in the same League, it’s very doubtful he’ll achieve the feat. The Rangers are definitely one to watch in the AL this year, and there is no doubt Hamels will help the team to all the success they achieve. But with his age catching up to him, he just can’t compete with the younger stars.
5. Will: Madison Bumgarner
In the postseason, there is absolutely no active major leaguer who even comes close to comparing to Madison Bumgarner, as he is quickly approaching all-time great status. The regular season is a different story. Although he isn’t bad at all, he just hasn’t been able to compare to the other amazing left-hander in the NL West, Clayton Kershaw. That’s not a knock on Bumgarner, as no one has been as good as Kershaw over the past five years, but eventually he will have a down year, and if the Giants ace can continue his string of 16-18 wins with a great ERA, he will be the hands-down favorite to take the award. He will also no doubt continue his dominance with the bat, which will make him one of the best and most complete pitchers in the entire game.
4. Won’t: Masahiro Tanaka
Much like his countryman Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka made waves when he decided he was to continue his impressive baseball career stateside, and his signing with the New York Yankees made him one of baseball’s biggest “must-see” players. His first year was outstanding, and if it wasn’t for the injury that derailed his MLB career, he may have already won a Cy Young award by now. For 2017, Tanaka is back, and according to sources within the Yankees, he is looking better than ever. That may be the case, and we may be looking at one of the most exciting teams in the game in this coming year. Unfortunately, though, there have been much younger and better pitchers who have now passed him over in the upper echelon in the AL, and while he may help the Yankees back to the playoffs, he won’t be winning the Cy Young anytime soon.
3. Will: Chris Archer
If you look at the numbers from a year ago, you’d think that Archer would be lucky to have a job as a major leaguer, but it was just a down year in what has already been a very good career. The Tampa Bay Rays look to be marginally better in 2017, and if Archer can regain the form that made him one of the best pitchers in the game, there is no doubting that he could win a Cy Young within the next several years. With a repertoire of four lethal pitches, Archer can be deadly when he is on, and if he can consistently pitch at that level, then he could propel the Rays back to the heights that they were at several years ago, with many more honors on the way.
2. Won’t: Gerrit Cole
A few years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates looked like they were on the cusp of something truly special as a team, and with a young Gerrit Cole who looked like he had the world at his feet, you couldn’t help but think the struggling organization was in for one, if not multiple World Series appearances. That hasn’t panned out, and after 2 straight Wild Card game losses, the team missed the playoffs entirely in 2016, and with rumors of team star Andrew McCutchen being on the trade block, it seems their World Series window may have already come and gone. This has impacted Cole as well, as he hasn’t seemed as sharp over the past season and a half, and with the teams expectations and competitive aspirations dwindling as we speak, it’s unlikely that Cole or the Pirates will make enough noise within the next few seasons for him to be able to grasp the Cy Young award.
1. Will: Noah Syndergaard
In his young career, “Thor” has established himself as one of the hardest throwers in the Majors, but he has also showed a poise and personality that go way beyond his years, and he looks ready to lead this young Mets staff to the World Series. The gigantic, right-handed flame thrower has been on the roster for around three seasons, and you won’t hear a bad word said about him, and that bodes well for his and his team’s success. The only negative about his game is that he is too slow to the plate, as he allowed a record number of stolen bases in the 2016 season. But if he can vary his times to the plate and stop that from happening, his array of pitches in combination with his fastball will make him a surefire Cy Young winner.
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