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These aces lead our updated Cy Young poll

@RichardJustice
June 5, 2019

Justin Verlander was asked two weeks ago if he’d ever pitched better than he’s pitching right now. This question came moments after a game in which he’d induced 28 swings and misses in an eight-inning one-hitter against the White Sox. Verlander shrugged and smiled. “I can’t say that,” he said.

Justin Verlander was asked two weeks ago if he’d ever pitched better than he’s pitching right now. This question came moments after a game in which he’d induced 28 swings and misses in an eight-inning one-hitter against the White Sox.

Verlander shrugged and smiled.

“I can’t say that,” he said. “That’s a pretty large body of work.”

Actually, it’s an astonishing body of work, with 15 seasons, 432 major league starts and 2,809 strikeouts. He was also the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2011. He finished second three other times (2012, 2016, 2018) and had a legitimate case for winning all three times. (He was third in 2009).

So this could be the season he wins a second Cy Young, and that’s what a poll of MLB.com voters reflects with Verlander getting 30 of 38 first-place votes to finish ahead of Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi (three first-place votes) and Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd (five first-place votes).

Meanwhile, Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu leads the NL voting with 35 of 37 first-place votes and has a big lead on Nationals ace Max Scherzer (two first-place votes) and D-backs righty Zack Greinke.

Thirty-eight MLB.com reporters were asked to rank their top three choices in each league, with five points being awarded for a first-place vote, three points for second place and one point for third.

Here’s a breakdown of the top three:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Verlander (30 first-place votes) -- He’s the definition of an ace. In 13 starts, he's only pitched fewer than six innings once. In his last five starts, he has not pitched fewer than seven. His 2.27 ERA is the best of his career, and he’s leading the AL with 87 1/3 innings and a 0.733 WHIP.

2. Odorizzi (3 first-place votes) -- He moved from fourth in the first poll to second in this one. He’s leading the AL in ERA (1.96) and ERA+ (226). The Twins have won nine of his 12 starts, and Odorizzi has given up more than three earned runs only once. He’s not getting as deep into games as Verlander, having finished at least six innings five times.

3. Boyd (5 first-place votes) -- He was one of the AL’s best pitchers after the All-Star break last season with a 1.08 WHIP and .230 opponents' batting average. He has quality starts in nine of his last 12 appearances. For the season, he’s fifth in the AL in WHIP (1.02), ninth in ERA (3.01) and fourth in innings (44 2/3) and strikeouts (97).

Others receiving votes: Charlie Morton, Lucas Giolito, Gerrit Cole, Mike Minor, Blake Snell.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Ryu (35 first-place votes) -- His fastball barely touches 90 mph, and he’s a reminder that really good pitching has always been as much about location and movement as velocity. It's hard to remember that when he missed virtually all the 2015 and 2016 seasons because of a bad shoulder, and plenty of people thought his best days were behind him. At 32, these are his best days, as he leads the NL in (1.35 ERA), WHIP (0.808) and ERA+ (282).

2. Scherzer (2 first-place votes) -- He’s rolling right along in his 12th season, leading the NL in strikeouts (117), innings (85 1/3) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.3). He has pitched at least six innings in 11 of his 13 starts, but the Nationals have scored three runs or fewer for him nine times.

3. Greinke (0 first-place votes) -- He continues to reinvent himself with a four-pitch combination that can be different on any given night depending on how he’s feeling. Still, at 35, Greinke is almost as good as ever, having tossed 11 straight quality starts until his last time out.

Other receiving votes: Luis Castillo, Stephen Strasburg (one first-place vote), Mike Soroka, Chris Paddack, Patrick Corbin, German Marquez, Kyle Hendricks.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.