Five pitchers whose Cy Young-caliber seasons are going unnoticed

Five pitchers whose Cy Young-caliber seasons are going unnoticed

Taijuan Walker is shelved, — like most Mets, right now — but has been brilliant.
Taijuan Walker is shelved, — like most Mets, right now — but has been brilliant.
Image: Getty Images

Baseball has gone through an entire “repressed Catholic kid going into their freshman year of college”-type transformation over the past several years. With baseball moving ever closer to a “three true outcomes” game, several pitchers have revitalized their careers and several more have just started to find success at the big league level. The number of solid pitchers in Major League Baseball has never been higher, but since guys like Jacob deGrom, Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, and Corbin Burnes exist, most of their incredible seasons will fly by with very few other than hardcores noticing. Well not today!

Today, we’re giving praise to all the pitchers who’ve been shutting down opposing offenses without any of the acclaim that the guys I listed receive on the reg.

Note: Just because somebody is on this list does not mean that zero people have noticed how great they’ve been. You might have noticed how your team’s ace has been lights out this season, but someone on the other side of the country might not have. Also, I won’t be including any of the pitchers who’ve thrown a no-hitter this year. Yes, Carlos Rodon and John Means are having career years, but after they threw those no-no’s, people started to take notice.

So who’s still waiting for proper props?

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1) Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants

1) Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants

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You’d think a starting pitcher who was third in the league in ERA, hadn’t lost a game, and was striking out 10 batters per would get Cy Young hype. That’s not the case with Kevin Gausman. The former Oriole has continued his career resurgence serving as the ace of the team with the best record in baseball. Gausman currently holds a modest record of 4-0, but the San Francisco bullpen has been unable to hold a few of Gausman’s leads this year. In all but one of his starts, the Giants had the lead heading into the eighth inning. The Giants have lost three of those games and had to go to extra innings to get the win in one other. At best, Gausman could be 8-0 which would tie him for the MLB lead in that category with St. Louis’s Jack Flaherty.

Despite the incredible numbers — according to Sports Betting Dime — Gausman has no odds to win the NL Cy Young Award currently. Gausman is still behind guys like Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (3-4; 3.94 ERA; 10.6 K/9) and Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks (4-4; 4.74 ERA; 7.7 K/9). If the season were to end today, Gausman should be top five in Cy Young voting. He’s not even being given top-15 odds.

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2) Kyle Gibson, Texas Rangers

2) Kyle Gibson, Texas Rangers

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If you’re looking for consistency, Kyle Gibson is the guy for you. Gibson currently leads the league in quality starts with nine — meaning Gibson has gone at least six innings and allowed no more than three earned runs in all but one of his starts. He’s also been incredibly good at limiting the long ball, something even pitchers like Cole struggle with. Gibson has allowed just three big flies all season long, tied with Brandon Woodruff for the least allowed among pitchers with at least 52 innings pitched.

You wouldn’t expect anybody on the team with the 19th-best ERA in the league to be having the season that Gibson is, but his current ERA is 2.24, and if not for his first start of the season (0.1 IP, 5 ER), Gibson would have a 1.50 ERA. That mark would rank him second in Major League Baseball.

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3) Taijuan Walker, N.Y. Mets

3) Taijuan Walker, N.Y. Mets

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Much like everyone on the Mets, Taijuan Walker is currently on the 10-day Injured List. However, before he joined his teammates there, Walker was putting together an incredible season. 2.05 ERA, 0.977 WHIP, and 0.2 HR/9 (leads the league) — all of those would be the best marks of Walker’s career by wide margins.

The key to Walker’s season will be longevity. Walker has a serious history with injuries and has not reached 170 innings pitched his entire career. If he can stay healthy, the Mets always seem to win in his starts. Currently, Walker is receiving the most run support of any pitcher on the Mets (3.88 runs/game). While that’s still a low number — 94th in MLB — it’s been enough to secure victories in seven of Walker’s eight starts in 2021.

When you’re on a team with Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, it’s easy to be overlooked. Walker doesn’t blaze the ball by batters with 102-mph fastballs or have incredible swagger and a chain that makes ladies swoon, but Walker does have a reliable fastball with off-speed that’s difficult to put the barrel on. It’s led to awesome results for him thus far. Here’s to hoping he can keep this hot start up after he returns from the IL.

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4) Christian Javier, Houston Astros

4) Christian Javier, Houston Astros

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Unlike all other pitchers on this list, Javier is the only one who currently does have Cy Young betting odds. But that can largely be attributed to him being a finalist for AL Rookie of the Year in 2020. Nobody outside of Houston expected Javier to continue his hot streak from 2020. Well, Javier has gone ahead and done even better, lowering his ERA by .21 points, increasing his K/9 by more than a point, and averaging over .2 more innings pitched per start. So, basically, he’s been better and going longer than his rookie season, which was already an impressive year. Javier has even outshined ageless wonder Zack Greinke, who has been one of the most inconsistent pitchers in the league this year (very uncharacteristic of the former Cy Young winner).

While the Houston bullpen has let Javier down this season — giving up at least two earned runs in six of Javier’s eight starts — Javier has still put together a winning record (3-1). Even better, since Javier’s rookie season was last year, he was not involved in the cheating scandal of 2017, so it’s okay to cheer for him. You can still root for the Astros to lose, but cheering for and admiring Javier’s success would not break the baseball fan’s code of honor.

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5) Huascar Ynoa, Atlanta

5) Huascar Ynoa, Atlanta

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Ynoa has been one of the luckiest pitchers across the league in 2021. While Ynoa owns a 3.02 ERA, he’s currently finding barrels at the highest rate of his career, and thus, his expected ERA is actually closer to 4.7. But, as the saying goes, “It’s better to be lucky than good.” Ynoa has been both.

Ynoa did suffer a fracture in his hand after punching a dugout bench in frustration last Sunday, so he likely won’t be available until after the All-Star break. But Ynoa had been a valued part of a struggling — and underperforming — rotation, and I’m sure Atlanta and their fans will be glad to see him return in mid-July… as long as he keeps whatever lucky charm he’s been holding when he comes back.

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