Cy poll: Which aces have impressed most?

May 20th, 2021

Dominant pitching has been the story of the season so far, and there are a number of worthy candidates who are building strong Cy Young Award cases.

We asked our panel of experts to pore through the data and rank their top three in each league. Pitchers were assigned a point total on a 5-3-1 scale (5 points for a first-place vote, 3 for a second-place vote, 1 for a third-place vote).

Here are the results of's first Cy Young Award poll of the 2021 season. (Stats are through Tuesday's games.)


1) , RHP, Yankees (62 first-place votes)
In his second season with the Yankees, Cole looks better than ever, recording a 2.03 ERA with an 85-to-5 K/BB ratio and an MLB-leading 1.63 FIP over 57 2/3 innings. If he keeps it up, the right-hander may finally nab the Cy Young Award that has proven elusive in his career. Cole has finished among his league’s top five in the voting four times, including each of the past three years, but he’s never hoisted the trophy. It wasn’t unanimous, but the 30-year-old received 62 of the 80 first-place votes in the AL from our panel.

2) , LHP, Orioles (16 first-place votes)
Means has gone from an 11th-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft to a true ace for the Orioles. The southpaw entered his start on Wednesday leading the American League in ERA (1.21) and WHIP (0.71). He threw a no-hitter against the Mariners on May 5 and followed it up with six scoreless innings six days later, giving him four starts this year in which he went at least six frames and didn't surrender a run.

3) , RHP, Rays
Armed with a new slider that has given him another electric pitch, Glasnow has overpowered hitters to the tune of a 2.35 ERA with a 0.87 WHIP and 85 K’s in 57 1/3 innings. Opponents have hit .150 against the flamethrowing righty, who has struck out 10-plus batters in five of his nine starts. Glasnow didn’t receive any first-place votes from our experts, but he had enough points to finish in third place.

4) , RHP, Indians (2 first-place votes)
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, Bieber hasn’t been as good as he was last season (it would have been pretty difficult to keep up that pace), but he still leads the Majors with 92 strikeouts. We haven’t had a pitcher lead MLB in K’s in back-to-back seasons since 2011-12, when Justin Verlander did it.

5) , LHP, Royals
Duffy is having the best season of his career at age 32, recording a 1.94 ERA with a 2.32 FIP and a 10.4 K/9 rate over 41 2/3 innings. The left-hander was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left forearm flexor strain on Monday, but an MRI ruled out any ligament damage, leaving the door open for a quick return.

Others receiving votes: Kyle Gibson, Carlos Rodón, Nathan Eovaldi, Dylan Cease, Aroldis Chapman


1) , RHP, Mets (73 first-place votes)
This might have been a unanimous choice if deGrom hadn’t been limited to one start this month due to right side tightness. The Mets ace, already a two-time Cy Young Award winner, has yielded a measly three earned runs in 40 innings (0.68 ERA) this season, and opponents own a .128/.170/.256 slash line against him. deGrom set a record for the most strikeouts by a pitcher through his first four starts of a season with 50 and has totaled 65 total K’s despite the missed time. His performance got him all but seven first-place votes from our panel.

2) , RHP, Brewers (4 first-place votes)
Deciding which Brewers starting pitcher has been most impressive this season isn’t easy. Our experts gave the nod to Woodruff, who leads the club in innings pitched (57) and has posted the best ERA (1.58) and WHIP (0.74) among qualified NL pitchers not named deGrom. Woodruff had a shaky start on Opening Day, but he’s been lights-out since, allowing only seven earned runs on 22 hits in his past 53 innings. No pitcher who has thrown at least 30 innings this season has allowed a lower OPS than Woodruff’s .421 mark.

3) , RHP, Brewers
Burnes makes it two Brewers in the top three, although he didn’t receive any first-place votes. Our expert panel likely factored in the time Burnes missed after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s made only six starts this season, but when he’s taken the mound, few pitchers have been better. The right-hander set a Major League record for the most K’s (58) without a walk to start a season and has limited hitters to a .437 OPS, third lowest in MLB (min. 30 innings) behind Woodruff and deGrom.

4) , RHP, Padres (2 first-place votes)
Traded to the Padres after a second-place finish in the NL Cy Young race last season, all Darvish has done for an encore is post a better ERA (1.81), WHIP (0.88) and K/9 (11.4) than he had in 2020. The 34-year-old has allowed one earned run or fewer in seven of his nine starts.

5) , RHP, Dodgers
Nine starts into a three-year, $102 million contract -- a deal he can opt out of at the end of this season -- Bauer has recorded a 2.20 ERA with an NL-leading 77 K’s and a 0.75 WHIP through 57 1/3 innings. Last year’s NL Cy Young winner seemed like a luxury item for the reigning World Series champions when he joined them in February, but with the Dodgers' injuries piling up, Bauer now looks crucial to Los Angeles’ chances of repeating.

Others receiving votes: Kevin Gausman, Max Scherzer (1 first-place vote), Trevor Rogers, Clayton Kershaw, Jack Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Freddy Peralta, Zack Wheeler