These days, the starting pitching talent in Major League Baseball is just plain filthy. Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets and Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees rightfully enter the 2021 season as Cy Young award favorites, but there are plenty of worthy options to choose from.
Trevor Bauer will look to repeat as the NL Cy Young after signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Shane Bieber will look to do the same with the Cleveland Indians.
Which hurlers could give those aces a run for their money? Here are the top 20 starting pitchers in the league heading into the 2021 campaign.
Scherzer’s numbers in 2020 weren’t where we’re accustomed to seeing them, but we’re not about to penalize three-time Cy Young award winner for one down year. Prior to that, he had five straight seasons with an ERA below 3.00. Three of those seasons included a WHIP below 1.00. He remains among the league’s best until those 2020 stats prove to be a trend rather than an outlier.
The 2020 NL Cy Young award winner will be out to prove his ridiculous numbers were no fluke. Bauer finished with a 1.73 ERA and 0.795 WHIP for the Cincinnati Reds. His only other season with an ERA below 4.00 came in 2018, when he posted a 2.21. The Dodgers will need the 2020 version of Bauer after signing him to a three-year, $102 million contract this offseason.
Bieber broke out in 2019, but he was virtually unhittable in 2020. The 25-year-old right-hander took home the AL Cy Young award after leading the majors in ERA (1.63), strikeouts (122), and FIP (2.07). There likely will be some regression this season, but Bieber still has earned a reputation as one of the elite arms in the game.
Cole’s first season in the Bronx was a success. The 30-year-old finished with a 2.84 ERA and stuck out 94 hitters in 73 innings pitched. After a fourth-place finish in the AL Cy Young race, expect Cole to be one of the front runners again in 2021.
A no-brainer for the top spot. All deGrom has done over the last three seasons is win the NL Cy Young award twice and finish third in voting last year. He also struck out a whopping 39 percent of the batters he faced in 2020.