Is Corbin Burnes The Front-Runner To Win NL Cy Young?

Corbin Burnes has been one of the most dominant pitchers this season.  In advanced metrics, he is a top or near the top is essentially every major pitching category.  He does trail Zack Wheeler and Walker Buehler in innings pitched.  This seems to be the biggest knock on his candidacy for the Cy Young award.  However, did his last outing where he pitched eight innings and allowed zero hits make him the new front-runner to win the NL Cy Young?

The decision to remove Burnes from a game after eight innings when he had a no-hitter going is certainly a topic of great debate.  Thankfully, reliever Josh Hader was able to secure the Brewers first ever combined no-hitter in franchise history.  The only other no-hitter was in 1987 when Juan Nieves went the distance against the Orioles.

Aside from the no-hitter, Burnes has broken several other records this year.  Along with this, he has had many other phenomenal games.  To begin the season, he struck out 58 batters before issuing a walk, which at the time was a MLB record.  A few weeks ago, he struck out 10 consecutive batters and finished that game with 15 total strikeouts.  He additionally now has surpassed 200 strikeouts on the season which makes him just the sixth pitcher in Brewers history to achieve this mark.

After all of that, how can Corbin Burnes not be the front-runner to win the Cy Young Award?  Let’s further examine how his competition stacks up against him.    

Burnes currently leads the MLB with the lowest ERA at 2.25.  Scherzer is second at 2.28, Buehler third with 2.32, and teammate Brandon Woodruff is fourth at 2.48.  Among qualified pitchers, Scherzer has the lowest WHIP at 0.86 and batting average against with 0.181.  In these categories, Burnes is one spot behind Scherzer with a 0.91 WHIP and has the fourth lowest opponent batting average of 0.198.

From an xFIP standpoint, Burnes again is first and also has the leagues lowest walk rate at 4.9%.  Burnes and Scherzer are tied with a 35.4 strike out percentage rate.  Zack Wheeler currently leads the league in total strikeouts with Burnes and Scherzer trailing him by 15 strikeouts each.

As mentioned earlier, innings pitched is the biggest knock on Burnes when compared to others.  Currently, Wheeler has tossed 195.1 innings and Buehler 185.  Burnes is at 152 innings pitched right now and a big reason for this is due to missing a few weeks on the COVID IL earlier in the season.  Besides this, Burnes has not missed any starts, but it is worth noting that the Brewers have used a six man rotation for a vast majority of the season.

I do not believe innings pitched should be the downfall to as why Corbin Burnes does not win the Cy Young award this year.  His dominance when on the mound is reflected in his advanced metrics as well as multiple great individual game performances.  Corbin Burnes should be the current front-runner for the Cy Young.

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