Yankees’ ace has the chance to win first Cy Young award on Wednesday

yankees, gerrit cole
May 12, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) looks on as he walks back to the dugout at the end of the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The winner of the American League Cy Young will be made public on Wednesday evening, as award season continues to take the scene at the same time as the start of free agency. A member of the New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole, is a strong candidate to take home the recognition, which would be the first one of his great career.

However, as good a candidate as Cole is, he is not the favorite to win. That distinction goes to Robbie Ray, who surged from a couple of lousy seasons to dominate in 2021. The Blue Jays’ ace had a 2.84 ERA and led the American League with 248 strikeouts. He had a solid 1.05 WHIP and covered 193.1 innings, limiting walks (a career-best 2.47 per nine frames) in the process. Lance Lynn is the other finalists, but his chances are looking slim.

The Yankees’ ace, on the other hand, finished with a 3.23 ERA in 181.1 frames, accumulating 243 strikeouts. It’s safe to assume he would have led the league in whiffs if he had pitched the same number of innings as Ray.

The race is close between the Yankees’ Cole and the Blue Jays’ Ray

Cole finished with 2.03 walks per nine and a 1.06 WHIP. The race is extremely close, more than people think, because the Yankees’ pitcher has the edge in strikeouts per nine (12.06 to 11.54), walks per nine (2.03 to 2.47), fWAR (5.3 to 3.9), and the increasingly obsolete win-loss record (16-8 to 13-7).

Ray takes the edge in ERA (2.84 to 3.23), WHIP (1.05 to 1.06), bWAR (6.7 to 5.7) and total strikeouts (248 to 243). However, every other run-prevention metric favors the Yankees’ pitcher: FIP (2.92 to 3.69), xFIP (2.93 to 3.36), xERA (3.15 to 3.55), and even SIERA (2.93 to 3.22).

So, while Ray is the favorite (and he had a really good season regardless of the result) and there is no doubt about that given the people perception, Cole has a legitimate chance of winning the award.