Even when he's off, Sandy still leads Cy pack

September 9th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- The Marlins snapped their nine-game losing streak with a 6-5 win over the Phillies on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park despite once again not being at his best -- but did his latest blip loosen Alcantara’s hold on the National League Cy Young race?

Over his past four starts, Alcantara has seen his season ERA rise from 1.92 to 2.43, dropping him from first to third on the NL ERA leaderboard. His latest hiccup -- allowing five runs (three earned) over six innings against the Phillies -- came just hours after the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes, struck out 14 batters over eight innings of one-run ball to jump back into the picture.

“You feel good because we won, but tonight wasn’t my night,” said Alcantara, who has insisted he’s not paying attention to the Cy Young race at all. “But I was able to fight through it.”

In reality, Alcantara is still the favorite to win the award, but at least six other pitchers have a chance to make their case down the stretch.

“At the end of the day, your numbers are what they are,” manager Don Mattingly said. “So you're really just trying to win games every day and contribute every day. And then there's a pile of numbers there.”

So what exactly are the numbers with one month left? Here’s a look at the traditional stats for seven of the top candidates, followed by a closer look at what each pitcher will be facing down the stretch.


Note: The potential remaining opponents for each starter is based on starting every fifth team game, though that is obviously subject to change due to things like off-days and teams setting their rotations for the postseason.

The opponents: vs. Phillies, at Nationals, vs. Nationals, at Brewers, vs. Braves
The rundown: At this point, the Cy Young Award is Alcantara’s to lose -- and his remaining schedule isn’t nearly as brutal as the recent stretch that saw him face six straight postseason contenders in the Phillies (twice), Padres, Dodgers (twice) and Braves. Though his next start will likely once again come against the Phils, Alcantara should then get two consecutive outings against the last-place Nationals before facing the scuffling Brewers.

Of course, the Marlins may eventually pull back on Alcantara’s workload. As it stands now, they’re using off-days to give him extra rest between starts, but he’s still on track to start five more games this season. At his current average of seven innings per start, he’s on pace to pitch 231 2/3 innings this season, which would be the most by any pitcher since 2015 (Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel).

The opponents:
at Padres, at Giants, vs. D-backs, at Padres, vs. Rockies
The rundown: Urías leads the NL in ERA, though Alcantara is right on his heels -- and the latter has racked up 51 more innings and 38 more strikeouts. Things won’t come easy for Urías down the stretch, as he figures to face the Padres twice, as well as the surging D-backs. He does catch a break by facing the Rockies at home instead of at Coors Field.

The opponents:
at Rockies, vs. Padres, at Dodgers, at Astros, at Brewers
The rundown: Gallen hasn't allowed a run since Aug. 2. He's tossed 41 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, the eighth-longest streak in the Live Ball Era (since 1920). That streak will be in serious jeopardy his next time out, as he’s slated to face the Rockies at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Gallen will then likely face four straight postseason contenders -- the Padres, Dodgers, Astros and Brewers -- to close out the season.

If he somehow continues his recent brilliance while navigating that gauntlet, he could have a legitimate Cy Young case.

The opponents:
at Mariners, vs. Phillies, vs. Nationals, at Nationals, vs. Mets
The rundown: Fried ranks fourth in ERA while racking up 149 strikeouts to just 28 walks. That 5.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the second-best in the NL, trailing only Aaron Nola (8.3). Still, he’ll need to pad the raw numbers a bit more down the stretch -- and a pair of starts against the Nationals could help -- to overtake Alcantara.

The opponents: TBD
The rundown: Gonsolin's numbers are simply ridiculous: 16-1 with a 2.10 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and a .169 opponents' batting average. Unfortunately, he's pitched only 128 1/3 innings in his 23 starts -- an average of 5 2/3 innings -- and he now finds himself on the 15-day IL with a right forearm strain. Even if he returns to make a few more starts, it's hard to imagine him pitching enough innings to earn the Cy Young.

The opponents: at Cardinals, vs. Mets, at Reds, vs. Marlins, vs. D-backs
The rundown: Burnes reminded everyone on Thursday why he’s the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner. His 14-strikeout gem moved him to the top of the NL strikeout leaderboard, while he also ranks second in opponents' batting average, fourth in WHIP and fifth in innings pitched. Though his eight strong innings on Thursday moved his ERA back below 3.00, he’ll need to improve a bit more on that 2.93 mark to win a second straight Cy Young.

The opponents:
at Giants, vs. Nationals, at Phillies, vs. Mets, at Marlins
The rundown: This one is the real wild card of the bunch. Like Gonsolin, Strider won’t finish with nearly as many innings as Alcantara -- but unlike Gonsolin, it's not because of shorter outings. Strider began the year in the bullpen before joining Atlanta's starting rotation on May 30, and he’s wasted no time establishing himself as one of the most dominant arms in the NL. He’s racked up 183 strikeouts in only 120 2/3 innings -- an average of 13.6 K’s per nine innings. That would be the second highest single-season rate (minimum 100 innings) in MLB history, trailing only Gerrit Cole in 2019 (13.8).