Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola put together a Cy Young Award worthy campaign in 2018. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, he did it in a season with stiff competition.
The former first-round pick finished third overall in National League Cy Young Award voting, with New York Mets righty Jacob deGrom edging out Washington Nationals star Max Scherzer for the award.
Nola, who made his first National League All-Star team in 2018, finished the season with a 17-6 record, 2.37 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 10.0 bWAR and 5.6 fWAR in 212.1 innings. Perhaps most notably, Nola posted a 0.97 ERA in 37 innings spanning five starts where he was matched up with Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard and David Price.
However, deGrom had a historically dominant season. Despite winning just 10 games – a hangup from some more traditional voters – the 30-year-old righty posted a 1.70 ERA, a 1.99 FIP, 10.0 bWAR and 8.8 fWAR in 217.0 innings. deGrom’s 2018 season, even if it came for a New York Mets team that won just 77 games, will likely be talked about for decades to come.
Incredibly, Scherzer, who has already won three Cy Young Awards, turned in perhaps the finest season of his career in 2018. The 34-year-old righty went 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA, a 2.65 FIP, a 9.5 bWAR and a 7.4 fWAR in 220.2 innings. While Nola did outduel Scherzer in two head-to-head matchups, Scherzer topped Nola in terms of FIP, fWAR and innings pitched. A third consecutive National League Cy Young Award win would have allowed Scherzer to join Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens as the only pitchers in baseball history to win the Cy Young Award four different times. In any event, a runner-up finish won’t hurt his chances of eventually gaining induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers of America Association) votes in a separate election from the BBWAA (Baseball Writers of America Association), who determines the winner of the award. I’m an IBWAA voter – and publicly shared my final ballot last month, which saw Nola finish in third place behind deGrom and Scherzer. The full IBWAA Cy Young results were announced Wednesday, with deGrom edging out Scherzer and Nola in that order.
While this may be a missed opportunity of sorts for Nola – the season he had in 2018 would have won the Cy Young Award in many other seasons – this figures to just be the first of many awards that he competes for. While Scherzer is entering his mid-30s and deGrom is already on the wrong side of 30, Nola won’t celebrate his 26th birthday until next June.
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