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1. Max Scherzer, SP, Nationals: Max Scherzer is walking filth. He is in the Cy Young conversation every year, winning it three times and coming in second last year, some even argue he should’ve won. Scherzer finished last season with a 2.53 ERA, 220 IP, and joined the 300 strikeout club for the first time in his career, meaning he is not slowing down even at age 34. Expect Scherzer in the Cy Young convo once again as he continues to be one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball.
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2. Jacob deGrom, SP, Mets: Don’t let Jacob deGrom’s 10-9 2018 record blind you from the fact that he had one of the greatest pitching seasons in MLB history last year. deGrom led the MLB with a 1.70 ERA and also put up 269 K’s, a .91 WHIP, with 217 IP which led him to win the NL Cy Young award. The only thing holding him back from the top spot on this list is his track record, but if deGrom can build off of last season on a new and improved Met’s team, expect him to be the number one pitcher heading into the 2020 season.
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3. Chris Sale, SP, Red Sox: Chris Sale may be the hardest pitcher to hit off of in the MLB. His delivery combined with his stuff is filthy. Sale has produced top tier results his entire career. At 29 years old, he is the all-time MLB leader in K/9, is apart of the 300 strikeout club, and has finished top 3 in strikeouts each of the last 4 seasons. With a career 2.89 ERA, and coming off a World Series win, there’s no doubt in my mind Sale will continue his dominance.
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4. Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies: Aaron Nola is one of the games brightest young pitchers. At 25, Nola is coming off his breakout year in which he finished 3rd in NL Cy Young voting with a 2.37 ERA, 224 K’s, and the second highest overall WAR in baseball. The Phillies are new and improved after making several huge roster moves this offseason which will only benefit Nola in the run support category, so look for him to build off of last season and lead the Phillies rotation to the playoffs.
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5. Justin Verlander, SP, Astro’s: Justin Verlander’s move to the Houston Astro’s before the 2017 playoffs was a sort of rejuvenating move for his career. After helping lead the Stro’s to the World Series title in 2017, Verlander dominated in 2018. The former MVP had 290 K’s in 214 IP along with a 2.52 ERA. He is entering his age 36 season but I don’t see his play dropping off significantly this coming year. Expect him to lead the already loaded Astro’s rotation back to the playoffs this season as he tries to add another ring to his hall of fame resume.
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6. Blake Snell, SP, Rays: Blake Snell is coming off a breakout season. Snell came out of nowhere and won the AL Cy Young award and came top ten in MVP voting. Snell had a 1.89 ERA, .97 WHIP, 21 wins, and 221 strikeouts in 180 IP in 2018. Snell turned 26 over the offseason and as long as he keeps up a level of play at least near this stellar season, expect him to crack the top 5 of this list sooner rather than later.
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7. Corey Kluber, SP, Indians: Corey Kluber is a 2 time Cy Young Award winner who hangs with the best of them. He last won the award in 2017 and came in third in voting in 2018. Kluber is coming off a season where he struck out 222 in 215 IP and had a 2.89 ERA. Entering his age 32 season, Kluber shouldn’t show signs of regression and expect him to be in the Cy Young race once again.
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8. Gerrit Cole, SP, Astro’s: The next three pitchers on this list could be ranked anywhere through the 8-10 spots but Gerrit Cole gets the nod for the 8 spot this year, and deservingly so. After a move to the Astro’s, the former #1 overall pick finally put it all together in 2018 with 276 strikeouts in 200 innings pitched with a 2.88 ERA, leading him to a fifth-place finish in Cy Young voting. Still only 28, if Cole can prove his stellar season won’t match with his inconsistent past, he will see himself in the Cy Young race again.
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9. Luis Severino, SP, Yankee’s: In his two full seasons in the MLB, Severino has been nothing short of absolute filth, showing promise as a rising superstar. Entering his age 25 season, Severino is coming off a year where he recorded 220 strikeouts in 191.1 innings pitched, had a 3.39 ERA, and finished in the top ten in Cy Young voting for the second consecutive year. Severino is only going to get better with time, and the Yankee’s have their ace of the future so expect him to rise up this list in the coming years.
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10. Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians: You could move Trevor Bauer up this list one or two spots and I wouldn’t argue with you. Bauer never finished with an ERA below 4.00 before last season which is why I have him at #10, but in 2018, Bauer was nasty. Finishing with a 2.21 ERA and 221 K’s in 175 IP, Bauer showed out. He finished sixth in Cy Young voting and third in K/9. If Bauer can build off of his breakout season, the Indians will be in the conversation for the best rotation in baseball, and Bauer will find himself in the Cy Young voting once again.
Honorable Mention Relief Pitchers:
Edwin Diaz, Josh Hader, Craig Kimbrel, Blake Treinen