Washington Nationals: Is Max Scherzer still the NL Cy Young favorite?

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CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 12: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals reacts while in the dugout after pitching against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field on August 12, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 12: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals reacts while in the dugout after pitching against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field on August 12, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Heading into July, it looked like Max Scherzer would cruise home to a third straight NL Cy Young award for the Washington Nationals. Now it’s not as simple.

Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer is once again having a Hall of Fame season in 2018. He looked like he might run away with the Nationals League Cy Young. But now, it’s neck and neck heading into the final few weeks.

It’s not so much Scherzer regressing from his last two years as, if anything, he’s better than before. But Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola have both taken huge strides this year to put themselves in elite company.

The award will be decided on in November time, and the Nats right-hander could be just the third pitcher ever to win a Cy Young award three times in a row. So, is Scherzer the current favorite for the award to achieve this feat?

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Well, according to Oddsshark deGrom currently leads the betting market and is odds-on favorite to claim his first Cy Young award. The odds listed below are those on August 22nd:

Yes, ERA one of the most important stats, possible the most important, when judging a pitcher, and deGrom is way out ahead in this category with his other-worldly 1.71 figure. Scherzer and Nola both currently have a 2.13 ERA, which is still an elite rate, just not quite matching the Mets ace.

But Scherzer does lead in a lot of other pitching categories that should help his case. Strikeouts are sexy, and Max Scherzer is the undisputed king of them right now as he leads all of baseball with 244.

This puts him on course to finish right around the 300 mark come October. It would be just the 36th time in major league history this has happened. But that’s no guarantee for silverware as Chris Sale managed this last season and ended up losing out to Corey Kluber.

Yes, one of the other categories he leads in is pitching wins. It is a very outdated stat and has previously been incredibly overvalued. However, there is still value in beating your opposing number on a given day. After all, a win for your ballclub is the most important stat in baseball. A 20 win season is within reach, and still very much special for a pitcher to reach.

We could dive into all the numbers on all sides and have a whale of a time doing so. And admittedly, if the award were handed out right this second, deGrom would probably take it by the thinnest of margins.

But unfortunately for the Mets ace, the award isn’t won at the end of August. There’s still a month to play yet. So we need to look at the teams they still have to face. Here are the scheduled opponents for the rest of 2018 as things stand:

  • Max Scherzer: Phillies, Brewers, Cubs, Phillies, Marlins, Marlins, Rockies
  • Jacob deGrom: Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, Marlins
  • Aaron Nola: Nationals, Marlins, Mets, Marlins, Mets, Braves, Braves

Jacob deGrom appears to have the toughest remaining schedule, if all goes as expected, with only one team under .500 and the Red Sox easily the toughest matchup going. Nola and Scherzer, on the other hand, get to face the Marlins twice, while the former also faces the Mets a pair of times. Advantage Nola on that front, but he also seems like the third favorite at this point and has to make up the ground.

The other factor that probably isn’t being taken into account by many people judging the race is their track record. Scherzer has been there, and done that, whereas the other two could fade at the end.

Nola is already past his career-high in innings this year, so he’s heading into the unknown now. deGrom has only ever eclipsed 200 innings once and struggled a little towards the end of that year.

But Scherzer has reached 200 innings for five straight years and 2018 will be his sixth. He’s a man well versed in going the full distance as proven by his no-hitter at Citi Field back in 2015. So the smart money should still be on Scherzer to take home the silverware at the end of the year.

dark. Next. Ten possible 2B candidates next season

Max Scherzer is by no means the lock for the NL Cy Young that we thought before the season. However, the Washington Nationals ace still has a month or so to prove himself worthy of a three-peat.

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