Perhaps he would finish seventh or eighth for the award, an incredible feat when you take into account how much he’s had to get used to in a new country and league.
It will take continued dominance from Senga and some bumps down the stretch from Snell and Steele to vault him over them, but a look at what Senga has done so far (along with the competition beyond Snell and Steele) makes it clear that this should be a three-man race.
Strider is striking out the world this season, with a Jacob deGrom-like 13.8 K’s per nine. He has already racked up 259 strikeouts, which leads MLB. But his ERA — 3.73 — is simply too high. Maybe the equation changes if he fires back-to-back shutouts, but it’s hard to see the Braves letting him run loose since they’ve already sewn up the best record in the NL.
Then there’s Gallen, whose relatively ordinary peripherals don’t stand out and whose September ERA of 5.12 over three starts (one gem that was sandwiched by rough games against the Orioles and Mets) has his overall ERA up to 3.50.
That brings us back to Senga.
Entering his start on Wednesday against the Marlins in Miami, which could be his second-to-last outing of the season, Senga has a 2.95 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with 191 strikeouts in 155.1 innings over 27 starts.
Senga has allowed only 116 hits, good for a sterling 6.7 hits per nine.
His ERA is the third-best in the NL (behind only Snell and Steele) and fifth-best in MLB.
His strikeout rate is the fourth-best in the NL (behind Strider, Snell, and Freddy Peralta).
He has allowed more than two earned runs just twice over his last 14 starts.
And a look at Senga’s advanced stats shows that his stuff has been dominant.
He is in the 99th percentile in pitching run value, 98th percentile in fastball run value, and 98th percentile in offspeed run value.
The ghost fork, which is Senga’s bread and butter, alluded him at times in the early going this season, with his command of it coming and going a bit. But he’s fully harnessed it now, as evidenced by a heat map that looks like this and these numbers:
Against Senga’s ghost fork this season, which he has thrown 626 times, hitters are slashing .112 with a .132 slugging percentage. He has not allowed a home run on it, has a whiff rate of 60 percent, and has generated 104 of his 191 strikeouts with it.
Senga’s fastball — which has averaged a tick below 96 mph and touches the high-90s at times — is a serious pitch, but the ghost fork has been simply outrageous.
Overall, here’s how Senga compares to Snell and Steele:
This is Snell’s award to lose, and if he is dominant in his final starts, It’ll be hard for anyone to pry it from him.
If Snell stumbles, though — he’ll face the Rockies and Giants in his next two starts — it could open the door for Senga or Steele.
Senga gets the start against the Marlins on Wednesday in Miami, and should line up against the Marlins again next week at Citi Field in what should be his last start of the year.
No matter how the Cy Young race shakes out for Senga, what he’s done this season has been remarkable. His rise has changed the Mets’ dynamic entering 2024, giving them an ace on board as they look to bolster the rotation in a world without Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
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