Breaking News
More () »

The Top 10 National League Cy Young candidates for 2023 MLB season

The National League Cy Young is up for grabs with a new player in the mix he switched leagues and is currently a reigning Cy Young winner.

NEW YORK — When reigning American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander signed with the New York Mets over the winter, people were wondering what that would do to the Cy Young odds for 2023. 

Could Verlander win his fourth Cy Young overall but in a different league? Would he dethrone the current NL Cy Young Award holder Sandy Alcantara? Or is it possible a winner from the not-so-distant past could surprise everyone and finish first?

So who do the Locked On Podcast Network’s MLB hosts around the country think can be in the hunt to win it in 2023?

There was a list of players who were ranked by each host and then tallied and this was the order they came up with. (Feel free to debate amongst yourselves.)

The five players who just missed the cut were: The five players who just missed the cut were: Yu Darvish (11th), Joe Musgrove (12th), Logan Webb (13th), Kyle Wright (14th), and Julio Urias (15th).

SUBSCRIBE: The Locked On Podcast Network has a daily podcast for EVERY MLB team, find yours today! Free and available everywhere

10) Brandon Woodruff, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

Woodruff had a strong 2021 and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting. His 2022 while solid wasn’t as good as the previous year. Still, he finished, 13-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 27 starts. He threw 153 and one-third innings while striking out 190 batters and 2023 could be the year for him to bounce back a bit.

9) Zac Gallen, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Gallen had the best season of his career in 2022 and he finished fifth in the NL Cy Young vote. He had a career-low ERA at 2.54 and a career-high in starts with 31. He struck out 192 batters in 184 innings—another career-high—and he led the Majors with a 5.9 HR/9. The Diamondbacks don’t get a lot of press simply because they’re in the same division as the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres but don’t sleep on Zac Gallen.

8) Spencer Strider, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Strider finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year vote in 2022 and for good reason. He was a standout on the Braves who went 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA. He appeared in 31 games and made 20 starts. He’s only 24 and he struck out 202 batters in only 131 and two-thirds innings. Strider came out of nowhere to make the Braves starting rotation in 2022 and he made the most of it so don’t be shocked to see his name in the Cy Young tally at the end of this season.

7) Zack Wheeler, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

After a stellar 2021 season in which Wheeler led the Majors in innings pitched (213.1) and batters faced (849), and the NL in strikeouts (247), 2022 was a bit of a down year for the righty who had elbow issues toward the end of the season. His postseason was also up and down. He pitched great in the Wild Card Series and the NLCS but had rough outings in the Division Series and World Series. When he’s healthy, Wheeler is one of the better pitchers in the NL and if he stays healthy in 2023, you could see him in the Top 5 of NL Cy Young voting.

6) Aaron Nola, RHP Philadelphia Phillies

Despite having a losing record (which wasn’t entirely his fault), Nola finished fourth in the NL Cy Young vote in 2022. He went 11-13 but he posted a 3.25 ERA in 205 innings and struck out 235 batters. He’s also a workhorse who made regular season 32 starts in 2022 but seemed to be gassed in the playoffs. Still, Nola is a solid pitcher and also finished in the Top 10 in the Cy Young votes in 2018 and 2020 so he has a good shot of doing it again in 2023.

5) Max Fried, LHP, Atlanta Braves

Fried finished second in Cy Young voting in 2022 when he posted a 2.48 ERA in 185 and one-third innings and accrued a 14-7 record. He won’t strike out a ton of guys but his sinker induces a lot of ground balls which is slightly amusing because he didn’t have a sinker when he first started out. Now it’s his bread and butter. He won’t overpower hitters but he’ll make them swing and that’s what makes him a good candidate for NL Cy Young.

4) Max Scherzer, RHP, New York Mets

Scherzer is turning 39 this year and entering his 16th big league season but you wouldn’t know it from the 2.29 ERA he posted in 2022. Sure, the other numbers weren’t Scherzer-esque due to some injury issues but he’s still Mad Max and he’s always a safe bet to rebound and perform well. Plus he’s reunited with an old teammate—the next guy on the list—and sometimes that sort of camaraderie brings out the competitive edge in some players. It could be a fun year for Scherzer.

3) Justin Verlander, RHP, New York Mets

What Verlander did last year was unprecedented. He was entering his age-39 season coming off Tommy John surgery and most people were wondering how he was going to look. And in true Verlander fashion, the man came out and had one of the best seasons of his storied career. He not only won his third Cy Young Award-unanimously, by the way—and second World Series ring with the Astros but he also led the Majors with a minuscule 1.75 ERA. Now, he’s with Max Scherzer and the Mets and there’s a good chance he could win Cy Youngs in back-to-back years in two different leagues.

2) Corbin Burnes, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

Burnes had the best season of his career in 2021. He won the NL Cy Young and led the Majors in ERA (2.43) while leading the NL in strikeouts with 243 in 202 innings. He also led the league in HR/9 (home runs per nine innings) with 0.4. In comparison to 2021, his 2022 wasn’t as strong but it was still a good season and Burnes finished in the Top 7 in Cy Young votes and made the NL All-Star team for the second season in a row. He’s already won one and he knows what to do to get there so look for him to be at the top of the voting when this season ends.

1) Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Miami Marlins

Last year’s Cy Young winner, Alcantara, is a safe bet to do well again. He led the Majors in innings pitched (228 and two-thirds), batters faced (886), and complete games (6). He was also 14-9 on a not-so-great Marlins team while posting a 2.28 ERA in 32 starts. He pitched so well that he finished 10th in the National MVP vote. So could he repeat? He may have some heavier competition this season but do not count him out.

SUBSCRIBE: The Locked On Podcast Network has a daily podcast for EVERY MLB team, find yours today! Free and available everywhere

Before You Leave, Check This Out