The 2023 MLB Trade Deadline is officially in the books. With a little less than two months left in the 2023 regular season, now seems like a good time to update our favorites list for the NL Cy Young award. But, it’s hard to find a clear frontrunner at this stage of the year.
5. Zack Wheeler
We start off with Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler, who does have a convincing case despite an ERA (3.71) that’s not even in the top ten of the National League. The 33-year-old struck out 149 batters over his first 131 innings, and Wheeler’s second in the NL in FIP (2.94) and first in pitching fWAR (4.1). Given the low walk and home run totals, the question now becomes whether the voters are willing to forgive the spike in his ERA and WHIP — which can be at least partially attributed to less-than-stellar defense from the Phillies — come November.
4. Zac Gallen
Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen’s July was not great, as he surrendered seven home runs and 16 earned runs across 32.1 IP (4.45 ERA) last month. Still, Gallen — who’s been a favorite for the award for much of 2023 — still owns strong overall numbers. The 28-year-old is seventh in the NL in ERA (3.41), third in WHIP (1.09), and has been a workhouse for Arizona this season.
3. Blake Snell
If you thought Wheeler had a weird case, consider Blake Snell. The Padres left-hander leads the NL in pitching bWAR (3.4), ERA (2.50), and second in strikeouts (156). The problem? Snell walked 68 batters over his first 119 innings this season. Both his cumulative and BB/9 rates (5.14) are worst in the National League by a considerable amount. He’s been highly effective nonetheless, but will his walks — as well as the Padres’ struggles in 2023 — hold back Snell’s Cy Young ambitions?
2. Spencer Strider
Braves hurler Spencer Strider’s numbers have been impressive to say the least. Strider’s 208 strikeouts is well ahead of Snell in the strikeout department, and he’s also tied for first in the National League in wins (12). However, Strider’s been a bit more hittable in the second half, as opposing batters have a .732 OPS through four post-All-Star game starts, significantly higher than the .629 OPS in the first half.
1. Justin Steele
It would be fair to say that many people likely did not have Justin Steele on the shortlist for the NL Cy Young award at the start of the year. However, the left-hander’s been one of the great stories of the 2023 campaign. Steele’s made great use of slider and fastball that he can just run into right-handers, as he sat in a tie for first in wins (12) alongside Strider, second in ERA (2.65), and third in FIP (3.11) as of this writing.
Right now, the NL Cy Young award could go in a number of different directions. But for right now, we like Steele’s chances.
Note: All stats are as of August 5. This article will be updated throughout the year.