May 17, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
CY YOUNG – A.J. Burnett
On many other teams, Gerrit Cole would be the ace of the staff and would easily take home this hardware. Why shouldn’t he? Cole is 7-2 with a 2.11 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He also boasts a 1.6 WAR, which is already better than the WAR he put up in either of his first two seasons in the bigs. The only reason Cole isn’t the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Cy Young winner is because (arguably) the best pitcher in baseball right now is on the same team.
A.J. Burnett has been consistently dominant this season. He hasn’t given up more than two runs in any of the nine starts he’s made, he’s gone at least six innings in every start outside of his first, and has won his last four starts. He currently leads all Pirate starters in ERA (1.37) and WAR (2.6) and is second in strikeouts (53), wins (four), innings pitched (59), and WHIP (1.10). He may surpass Cole in some of these categories on Thursday, as Cole has made on more start than Burnett. Burnett also leads all of baseball in ERA and is tied for second in the NL in WAR.
A.J. Burnett thrives in Pittsburgh, more so than he has in any other city he’s pitched in during his career. He brings a much-needed tenacity to the mound, and is a mentor for younger pitchers like Jeff Locke. He’s proving to be one of the best acquisitions of the offseason, and is looking to end his career on the highest of notes.
Runner-Up – Gerrit Cole
As was previously mentioned, Cole would take home this hardware on almost any other staff in baseball. He leads the Pirate starting staff in wins, WHIP, innings pitched, and strikeouts. But A.J. has one start in hand and has been more consistent than Cole in the first quarter of the season. Burnett’s FIP of 2.80 compared to Cole’s of 2.28 may mean that Burnett is due for slightly more regression than Cole, however.
Unfortunately, there have been a few pitchers that haven’t lived up to the hype. A.J.’s “understudy” is the most notable of these…
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