Why the Cy Young Award is More Important Now than Ever

by Hannah Begay | From Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver to Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the Cy Young Award has topped baseball’s biggest names. The award was named after Cy Young who played from 1890-1911. During that time, he was the toughest pitcher for teams to face. He threw the ball harder than anyone had ever seen and, as he aged, he evolved his mechanics. He focused less on speed and more on style and accuracy. Cy Young holds most MLB records as far as pitching goes, including wins and innings pitched.

Each year, a pitcher is awarded the prestigious Cy Young from each league. This year will be no different. However, the award this year should hold a little extra special meaning for the winners and here’s why. First, the winners will have successfully pitched through a global pandemic. Win number one that is certainly far from typical. Seriously though, the winners should be extra proud of themselves. They quickly had to get themselves ready for a makeshift season of 60 games with very limited training games and simulations. Pitchers are forced to figure out mechanics on the fly and not always in an in-game situation. Teams are adapting to suddenly playing seven-inning double headers and now with only 60 games in the season, there is less leeway with pitchers. The managers choice to give the starter one more inning to figure it out is a tougher decision. With less games in the season, every game counts and every game matters.

Starting pitchers this season are under significantly more pressure to have a strong start each time they take the mound. Teams are relying on them to go at least 7 innings to give the bullpen a break after pitching day in and day out. Few are doing that. Jacob deGrom is single handedly carrying the Mets each time he pitches. He knows he has to be the man of the game each time because the bullpen is struggling. He knows he gives them the best shot to win the game. Starting pitchers must be mentally tough 100% of the time and that takes a toll. Hitters were thrown into the same situation, but they get more at-bats than a pitcher does starts. They have a greater opportunity to figure out their swing. This year is truly a challenge for starting pitchers.  Their physical, mental and emotional abilities are being pushed to the extremes.

As to who will win the Cy Young this year, I have my eyes set on Jacob deGrom in the National League and Gerrit Cole for the American League. Both are having a stellar seasons so far and look as if they are going to continue on the path to success. Let us know who you think will win!


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