Is it possible for a pitcher to take home a Cy Young award despite missing nearly half a season? Judging from what Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw did before he landed on the disabled list and how the rest of his competition has performed since, it sure is.
The southpaw hasn’t pitched since losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 26, but it’s not outrageous to say he’s still the National League’s best pitcher. Despite spotting his competition about two months, he still leads the league in fWAR (5.5) and bWAR (4.8). The biggest question right now is whether or not he’ll return to a big-league mound before the regular season finishes.
The likelihood of that increased with some good news, as J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. News Group reported on Tuesday. Kershaw escaped a 40-pitch bullpen unscathed and is scheduled for a 60-pitch simulated game later this week. As he continues ramping up, the final step before re-entering the Dodgers’ rotation will be one rehab start.
The award has basically been Kershaw’s to lose all season, with a big determination now being how many starts he can rack up upon getting activated off the DL. There’s still about a month left, which is plenty of time for other contenders to separate themselves from the pack by having a strong finish.
Here are seven NL pitchers who have a shot at preventing Kershaw from winning yet another Cy Young. It all depends on how the last month goes.