For the second time in three years, Gerrit Cole was the runner-up for the American League’s Cy Young Award.
Lance Lynn of the White Sox finished third, ahead of Nathan Eovaldi of the Red Sox and Carlos Rodón of the White Sox. Cole was also the AL’s runner-up in 2019, when the award went to his then-Astros teammate, Justin Verlander.
In his second season with the Yankees, Cole was 16-8 with two complete games and a 3.23 ERA, limiting opponents to a .223 batting average. The fireballer presented one of the circuit’s toughest matchups for opponents, recording 243 strikeouts against 41 walks in 181 1/3 innings.
A left hamstring injury hindered Cole’s effectiveness down the stretch, allowing Ray to close the gap in the hardware chase. Cole appeared to have the clear advantage on Sept. 1, when he bested the Angels in a 15-strikeout gem to improve to 14-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 25 starts.
Though Cole pitched to a 6.15 ERA over his final five regular-season starts, then was knocked out early in the AL Wild Card Game, the 31-year-old paced the AL in victories and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.93). Cole ranked second in the AL in strikeouts, K’s per nine innings (12.06) and WHIP (1.06).
Major League Baseball’s enforcement of rules regarding "sticky stuff" became a frequently discussed topic regarding Cole’s season. Still, it is notable that arguably his best performance of the year came after that June 21 edict: an old-school, three-hit, 12-strikeout gem against the Astros on July 10 in Houston.
Cole was third in the AL in ERA and fifth in walks per nine innings (2.03). His 243 strikeouts were the second-most in a single season by any Yankee, trailing only Ron Guidry’s 248 strikeouts in 1978.
Cole’s nine double-digit strikeout games tied David Cone (1998) for the most in franchise history and the second-most in the Majors this year, behind Ray (10).
Also a top-five finisher in 2015 with the Pirates and 2018 with Houston, Cole placed fourth in the Cy Young voting following his Yankees debut in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.