Zack Wheeler Comes in Close Second for NL Cy Young

Philadelphia Phillies Zack Wheeler
TAMPA, FL – MARCH 07: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) delivers a pitch during the MLB Spring Training game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees on March 7, 2021 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Corbin Burnes has been crowned the NL Cy Young winner of 2021. Is it a shock? Not really. A disappointment? Maybe a little.

It’s hard to say anything is a disappointment when you look at Zack Wheeler‘s season. The Phillies ace went 14-10. He led the league in innings pitched with 213.1 and led in strikeouts with 247. He also had 3 complete games and 2 shutouts, leading the league.

Wheeler improved on his 2020 season where he had a 2.92 ERA. Since signing his 5-year deal with the Phillies, he has a 2.82 ERA and a 1.048 WHIP. We’ve watched him blossom into an ace before our very eyes.

The pièce de résistance of Wheeler’s season came on the day the Phillies retired number 34 in honor of Roy Halladay. Wheeler decided to do his best Halladay impression and dominated the New York Mets.

Wheeler became the first Phillies’ RHP to pitch a 9 inning shutout with 11+ strikeouts and 2 or fewer hits for the first time since Roy Halladay‘s perfect game. He was also the first Phillie to retire 22 consecutive batters since…Roy Halladay‘s perfect game. You could feel the magic surrounding this start.

His other shutout came against the NL Central champion Brewers. He allowed just 3 hits and didn’t walk a soul.

And let’s not forget about those World Series-winning Braves as Wheeler dominated them too. He struck out 12 Braves and only allowed 4 hits.

The vote for Cy Young came so close for Zack Wheeler. Wheeler and Corbin Burns both received 12 first-place votes. Max Scherzer received 6 first-place votes. Wheeler lost by just 10 voting points.

Corbin Burns only pitched 167 innings but he led the league in ERA. On top of that, he led in ERA+ (176), FIP (1.63), HR per 9 IP (0.4), K per 9 (12.6), and SO/W (6.88). His best performance came late in the season against the Indians. Burns went 8 IP with 14 K and a walk. Josh Hader closed out the combined no-no in the 9th.

Max Scherzer, a 3x Cy Young winner, came in 3rd. After being traded from the Nationals to the Dodgers, Mad Max went a perfect 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA. He led the league in WHIP (0.864), hits per 9 (6.0), and walks per 9 (1.8).

His best start came on September 12th against the Padres. The future Hall of Famer pitched 8 innings, struck out 9, and just allowed a single hit. In that start, he also recorded his 3000th strikeout.