Max Scherzer is back atop MLB.com's National League Cy Young Award poll in a race that may wind up being a referendum on data-driven analysis vs. traditional numbers. Or to put it another way, if you thought pitcher wins were at least partly a function of time and place, some still disagree.
Meanwhile, Red Sox lefty Chris Sale has a healthy lead over Justin Verlander of the Astros in the American League poll.
But it's the NL race that seems to be a matchup of old vs. new. That's because Mets ace right-hander Jacob deGrom trails Scherzer by a wide margin despite leading the NL with a 1.85 ERA, 2.29 FIP, 2.83 xFIP and a 5.4 WAR.
Scherzer is close behind in all those categories -- second in WAR and ERA -- and leads the NL in strikeouts, innings and, perhaps most impressively, WHIP (0.91 to deGrom's 0.97).
But the one category that isn't close is wins. Scherzer is 15-5 while deGrom is only 5-7, which is fewer victories than 33 other NL pitchers, including Sal Romano of the Reds, who is 6-9 despite a 5.12 ERA.
While Scherzer is getting 5.43 runs per game with which to work, deGrom's run support is 3.41 -- third lowest among all NL starters. In his past seven starts, deGrom is 0-5 despite a 2.47 ERA.
In those seven starts, deGrom has gotten more than three runs of support just once, and the Mets have scored just six runs in his past four starts. In his past 13 starts, deGrom is 1-7 with a 1.89 ERA.
But in an MLB.com poll of members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Scherzer got 20 out of 27 first-place votes; deGrom got the other seven.
1. Max Scherzer, Nationals (121 points)
Scherzer has already notched his seventh straight 200-strikeout season, which is tied for the second longest in Major League history. If he won a fourth Cy Young Award, he would join a club with only four other members: Roger Clemens (7), Randy Johnson (5), Steve Carlton (4) and Greg Maddux (4).
2. Jacob deGrom, Mets (76 points)
deGrom has strung together 14 straight quality starts, which is the longest single-season streak since Johan Santana's 14 in 2008. In 22 starts, he has allowed more than two earned runs five times. deGrom's 2.21 ERA at home is the second lowest in the Majors since 2014.
3. Aaron Nola, Phillies (46 points)
Nola has been at his best at a time when every game for the Phillies has the feel of a postseason contest. He has allowed 12 earned runs in his past eight starts. In 23 starts this season, Nola has allowed fewer than three runs 18 times. The Phils are 8-2 in his past 10 starts.
Also receiving votes: Zack Greinke, D-backs
1. Chris Sale, Red Sox (125 points)
Sale got 22 out of 28 first-place votes, and he appears to be headed for his first AL Cy Young Award after five seasons of coming close. In that time, he has finishes of second, third, fourth and fifth (twice). Sale leads the AL in WHIP, strikeouts, ERA+ and FIP. Even though he is on the disabled list, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has worked hard to manage the lefty's workload, allowing him to pitch more than six innings just once in July.
2. Justin Verlander, Astros (92 points)
Verlander got the other six first-place votes, and just when the workload seemed to be wearing him down, he stepped onto the mound at Dodger Stadium and was as dominant as ever with a 14-strikeout, 7 2/3-inning performance that had the Dodgers marveling at his ability to get better and stronger as the game wore on.
3. Trevor Bauer, Indians (22 points)
Bauer rcontinued his breakout season with a 2.03 ERA in six July starts. Only Dallas Keuchel (1.65) and Carlos Rodon (1.88) had a lower ERA among AL starters. He is on his way to becoming just the 11th pitcher in Indians history to record a 200-strikeout season. Bauer has also been a portrait of consistency, pitching fewer than six innings just four times in 23 turns and allowing more than three runs three times.
Others receiving votes: Gerrit Cole, Astros; Corey Kluber, Indians; Luis Severino, Yankees; Blake Snell, Rays