With so many pitchers putting up dominant results early on, picking the Cy Young Award frontrunners is no easy task, but we asked a panel of MLB.com voters to do just that.
In our first Cy Young poll of the season, 70 participants submitted their top five Cy candidates in each league based on what has happened so far and what they expect will happen in the months to come. Pitchers received vote points on a 5-4-3-2-1 scale -- five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on. Here are the results. (All stats are through Tuesday.)
1) Justin Verlander, Astros (30 first-place votes)
After missing most of 2020 and all of 2021, Verlander has returned from Tommy John surgery at the age of 39 looking very much like the pitcher who won the AL Cy Young Award three years ago. The right-hander threw five scoreless innings against the Nationals on Sunday to improve to 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA and an MLB-leading 0.68 WHIP through 45 2/3 innings. Verlander has allowed only 22 hits, 17 of them singles. Just a remarkable comeback story for an all-time great.
2) Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays (23 first-place votes)
The Blue Jays lost last year’s AL Cy Young winner, Robbie Ray, to the Mariners in free agency but replaced him with Gausman, who joined Toronto on a five-year, $110 million deal. So far, so good, as Gausman has looked every bit the part of a legitimate Cy contender. The 31-year-old struck out 45 batters before issuing his first walk in a Toronto uniform and entered Wednesday’s start with a 2.40 ERA and a 54-to-2 K/BB ratio over 45 innings this season.
3) Nestor Cortes, Yankees (11 first-place votes)
Gerrit Cole was supposed to be the Yankees' top Cy contender, but he’s been overtaken by Cortes. In his third stint with the organization, the left-hander has blossomed into an unlikely ace, posting an AL-leading 1.35 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 40 innings.
4) Alek Manoah, Blue Jays (1 first-place vote)
One of last season’s top rookie arms, Manoah is cementing himself as an elite starter in Year 2. The righty has posted a 1.71 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP through seven starts this season, forming a terrific one-two combo with Gausman atop Toronto’s rotation.
5) Shane McClanahan, Rays (4 first-place votes)
Like Manoah, McClanahan has made an impressive leap in his second season, pitching to a 2.33 ERA with 65 strikeouts over 46 1/3 innings in his first eight starts. The 25-year-old lefty is one of the hardest-throwing starting pitchers in the game, but the driving force behind his success has been his performance on non-fastballs. With help from a much improved changeup, McClanahan has held opponents to a .121 average and collected 54 K’s in 116 at-bats ending on breaking and offspeed pitches.
Others receiving votes: Dylan Cease, Gerrit Cole, Logan Gilbert (1 first-place vote), Michael Kopech, Shohei Ohtani, Joe Ryan, Tarik Skubal, Paul Blackburn, Michael Lorenzen, Martín Pérez, Zack Greinke, Jameson Taillon, Shane Bieber, Frankie Montas, Jordan Romano, Garrett Whitlock
1) Corbin Burnes, Brewers (23 first-place votes)
Only 11 pitchers have won a Cy Young in back-to-back seasons, but Burnes has a good chance to become the 12th. The Brewers righty has followed up last year’s dominant Cy-winning campaign with a sparkling 1.77 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP and a 57-to-8 K/BB ratio over his first 45 2/3 innings. Burnes actually tallied the second-most first-place votes of any NL contender in our poll, but the points he racked up from all the second- through fifth-place votes he received put him over the top.
2) Pablo López, Marlins (30 first-place votes)
The Marlins are one of three teams, along with the Rangers and Rockies, that have never had a Cy Young winner, but with the way López is pitching, Miami’s drought may come to an end in 2022. The 26-year-old entered Wednesday’s start with an MLB-leading 1.05 ERA and 46 K’s across 43 innings and received more first-place votes than any other NL pitcher.
3) Max Scherzer, Mets (9 first-place votes)
This is a familiar spot for Scherzer, although it may not be a lasting one, as this poll was taken before it was announced on Thursday that Scherzer will miss six to eight weeks with an oblique injury. While that's obviously a huge blow to his Cy Young chances, the 37-year-old Scherzer had been as advertised over his first seven starts with New York, registering a 2.66 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 55 strikeouts in 44 innings.
4) Carlos Rodón, Giants (5 first-place votes)
Rodón’s rough start against the Cardinals on Sunday night put a dent in his numbers, but he clearly made a strong impression on our panel with his dominance over his first six starts. The left-hander, who signed with San Francisco in the offseason, effectively replacing Gausman in the team’s rotation, came into Sunday’s outing with a 1.80 ERA and 53 K’s in 35 innings.
5) Joe Musgrove, Padres
Coming off a breakout season in 2021, Musgrove (2.20 ERA) has been even better this year, and our voters have taken notice. Musgrove is throwing his electric slider as often as he has in any season since his rookie year in 2016, and he’s recorded one of the highest chase rates in MLB, leading to plenty of weak contact and contributing to his personal-best 7.83 K/BB ratio over 45 innings.
Others receiving votes: Walker Buehler (2 first-place votes), Miles Mikolas, Merrill Kelly, Chris Bassitt, Josh Hader (1 first-place vote), Max Fried, Zac Gallen, Sandy Alcantara, Kyle Wright, Clayton Kershaw, José Quintana, Logan Webb, Eric Lauer, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler