Aaron Nola put together one of the best seasons in Philadelphia Phillies history in 2018, going 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 5.6 fWAR across 212.1 innings. Unfortunately for him, he did it in a season where Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer were even better, so he “only” finished in third place in the National League Cy Young Award race a season ago, despite putting together a campaign that normally would have won the award.
The good news for Nola is that ahead of his age-26 season, The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook thinks Nola will have another season in 2019 that puts him among the best starters in the game. The problem for Nola? Both Scherzer and deGrom still pitch in the National League, and therefore top the former first-round pick in senior circuit Cy Young Award odds:
While you wonder how much longer Scherzer will remain at the height of his powers, the 34-year-old sure didn’t show any signs of slowing down in 2018. Though he wasn’t able to collect a fourth Cy Young Award in 2018, Scherzer may have put together the most dominant season of his illustrious career. In 220.2 innings a season ago, Scherzer posted a career-low 2.65 FIP and a career-high 7.2 fWAR. He’ll anchor a rotation that will also include two other pitchers among the 10 best odds to win the National League Cy Young Award in 2019 – Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg.
Though it came for a Mets team that only won 77 games, deGrom put together one of the most dominant seasons in baseball history in 2018, posting a 1.70 ERA, 1.99 FIP and 8.8 fWAR across 217.0 innings. While there’s not a person on the planet likely to top that season in the near future, the additions of Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos and Jed Lowrie should improve the Mets offense rather drastically. The Mets also added perhaps the best closer in the sport this offseason, acquiring Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners in the same trade that netted them Cano. deGrom may not be as good as he was in 2018, but he doesn’t necessarily have to be to win the Cy Young Award for a second consecutive season. A better team around deGrom, who will turn 31 in June, should alleviate some of the pressure that didn’t seem to bother him a year ago.
Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw has the fourth best odds to win the National League Cy Young Award, but the seven-time All-Star is already dealing with a shoulder injury in Spring Training. Still just 30, the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner hasn’t pitched more than 175 innings in a season since 2015. From here, Kershaw’s teammate, Walker Buehler, may have the best chance of any Dodger to win the award in 2019. Buehler put together a remarkable first full season at the major league level in 2018, going 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA, 3.04 FIP and 3.3 fWAR in 137.1 innings. If there’s any pitcher that has a Nola-esque breakout in store for 2019, it may be the Dodgers 24-year-old righty.
None of this is to say Nola, fresh off of signing a four-year contract extension, couldn’t win the award in 2019. Since the start of June of 2017, Nola has an ERA of 2.69 across 348 innings. He’s one of the game’s very best arms. But he’ll have to edge out stiff competition to win his first National League Cy Young Award.
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