Brewers ace Corbin Burnes is the reigning NL Cy Young winner. After putting up incredible numbers last year, Burnes is dominating hitters once again. Where does he stand in the race for back-to-back NL Cy Youngs?
Last season, Burnes won the Cy Young with a league leading 2.43 ERA, a league leading 172 ERA+, 234 strikeouts to just 34 walks, and just seven homers allowed in 167 IP.
Once again, in 2022, Burnes is putting up similar numbers and has placed himself in the center of the NL Cy Young race.
Where does Brewers ace Corbin Burnes sit in the 2022 NL Cy Young race and who are the other contenders?
There are some very solid contenders for the Cy Young once again in the NL. It will most likely be a close race this year, as it was in 2021.
Let’s take a look at the numbers from the top five contenders through August 10th.
Corbin Burnes: 2.45 ERA, 136 IP, 16 HR, 38 BB, 175 K, 0.93 WHIP
Sandy Alcantara: 2.01 ERA, 166 IP, 8 HR, 41 BB, 145 K, 0.95 WHIP
Tony Gonsolin: 2.30 ERA, 109.2 IP, 11 HR, 29 BB, 102 K, 0.89 WHIP
Julio Urias: 2.49 ERA, 122.2 IP, 15 HR, 24 BB, 117 K, 0.97 WHIP
Max Fried: 2.60 ERA, 138.1 IP, 6 HR, 25 BB, 127 K, 1.08 WHIP
Burnes leads the way in strikeouts by a considerable margin, but otherwise his numbers are mostly comparable with the other Cy Young hopefuls.
The areas that have hurt Burnes this year and hurt his case for back-to-back Cy Youngs are the home runs and the walks. Last season, Burnes was notoriously stingy with the walks allowed and kept the ball in the ballpark. He’s already more than doubled his home runs allowed from last season and has surpassed his total walks allowed from last season.
Even with his continued production and in some ways being even better than last season, right now Burnes is not in the drivers seat in the NL Cy Young battle. That spot goes to Sandy Alcantara of the Marlins.
Alcantara leads the league in innings pitched and ERA. He has three complete games under his belt this season and has been able to routinely go seven, eight, nine innings in his starts, all while keeping the walks, runs, and home runs low. The win-loss record doesn’t mean what it used to. If it did, Tony Gonsolin and his 13-1 record would be leading the way.
Gonsolin may face some of the same issues that Burnes faced last year, which is that he’s thrown far fewer innings than the other candidates. But he also doesn’t dominate the strikeout numbers like Burnes did in 2021.
I’d put Burnes probably in the No. 2 position in the Cy Young race right now behind Alcantara. He may have a leg up with voters on some of the other contenders because he’s won the award before already and won just last year. Plus, his numbers stack up well against everyone else and that strikeout total makes the numbers look even better.
For Burnes to make it back to back, it’s going to take continued improvement and pure dominance over the final two months of the season, plus some regression from Alcantara. Burnes will need to cut back on those walks, cut back on the home runs allowed, and get deep into games to rack up those innings. Adding another no-hitter to the resume always helps, too. Even if Burnes does all those things, if Alcantara continues to perform like he has, he’ll be tough to beat.
The Brewers ace is within striking distance for his second consecutive Cy Young. The final few weeks of the season will determine if he can make it happen.