2019 MLB predictions: Cy Young
This week, we are unveiling the 2019 MLB awards predictions of our baseball writers/reporters across all NBC Sports Regional Networks. First up: Cy Young.
Aaron Nola is getting some love.
(All pictures used are USA Today Images and AP Images)
Gerrit Cole & Aaron Nola (Corey Seidman — Phillies)
For the AL, Cole will pitch this season at age 28, and when you combine the middle of his prime with his jaw-dropping strikeout increase last season and the fact that he pitches for a team that could again exceed 100 wins, you get a starting pitcher who checks all the Cy Young boxes.
In the NL, if Nola pitches as he did a season ago, he could win 20 to 22 games, which may not matter as much for awards as it once did but can be a separator when other numbers are equal. Nola repeats his delivery every pitch and rarely has a night when he can't hit spots.
Gerrit Cole & Walker Buehler (Alex Pavlovic — Giants)
In the AL, Cole took a leap after getting traded to the Astros, striking out 276 batters and posting a 2.88 ERA in 32 starts last season. Buehler's first extended run through the NL was dominant — he had a 2.62 ERA in 24 appearances last year and lowered it to 1.55 over his final 12 starts.
Chris Sale & Max Scherzer (Ben Ross — Athletics)
For the AL, this will finally be Sale's year. The left-hander is nearly unhittable when he's on his game and his strikeout totals have been otherworldly. Scherzer has won three Cy Young Awards in the last six years and has averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings the last two years and shows no signs of slowing down. If he stays healthy, he will undoubtedly be in the running in the NL.
Chris Sale & Aaron Nola (Lou Merloni — Red Sox)
In the AL, Sale has struggled down the stretch the last two years and still finished second and fourth, respectively, in the voting. A new “management plan” will keep him fresh for six months this season. Over in the NL, an improved offense will help Nola reach that 20-win plateau and win the award in a very crowded field.
Chris Sale & Walker Buehler (Todd Dybas — Nationals)
In the AL, this is simply a matter of health for Sale — he is a lefty with the best slider in the game. For the NL, Buehler appears to be the next big thing among pitchers.
Carlos Carrasco & Jameson Taillon (Tony Andracki — Cubs)
This is a bold call given Carrasco is about to turn 32 years old and has only one top-10 Cy Young Award finish in his career. However, he's one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball and I'm betting he puts it all together in 2019.
With Taillon, the former No. 2 overall pick enjoyed his true breakout campaign last year, emerging as the clear-cut ace of the Pirates. Look for another big leap from the 27-year-old this year.
Justin Verlander & Max Scherzer (Vinnie Duber — White Sox)
Verlander in the AL? Again? Yes, the ageless wonder is my pick to be the best pitcher in the Junior Circuit in 2019. In the NL, Scherzer is an unstoppable good-at-baseball machine, already the winner of three Cy Young awards and the runner-up a year ago.