Why Gausman may be putting himself out of the conversation
Despite ranking near the top of the American League in multiple pitching categories, most of the recent Cy Young winners consisted of pitchers that usually ranked among the top three in the major categories. For instance, Justin Verlander won last year’s AL Cy Young by ranking 1st in wins, ERA, and WHIP. Robbie Ray captured his award the year before by finishing first in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. Shane Bieber won in 2020 while leading the AL in wins, ERA and strikeouts and finishing second in WHIP. Verlander had won as well in 2019, ranking first in wins and WHIP, and second in ERA and strikeouts.
Currently, Gausman is only leading the AL in strikeouts, but is quite the distance away in the other major categories. If the trend mentioned above is indeed the mandatory criteria for awarding the AL Cy Young, the leading candidates as of right now would then be Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees (currently 4th in wins, 2nd in ERA, 3rd in WHIP, 3rd in strikeouts), Zach Eflin of the Tampa Bay Rays (currently 1st in wins, 1st in WHIP, 8th in ERA), and Luis Castillo of the Seattle Mariners (4th in ERA, 4th in strikeouts, 2nd in WHIP).
In addition, in the past two decades dating back to 2004, no AL pitcher has won the Cy Young award with an ERA above 3.00 other than Rick Porcello in 2016, CC Sabathia in 2007, and Bartolo Colon in 2005. In that case, both Sonny Gray and Cole have the upper hand on the other AL pitchers as they are the only two that still have their ERA below three. Gausman would need some big time shutouts in the coming weeks to lower his current 3.39 ERA to below three by the end of the season.
On top of that, Gausman has definitely been struggling ever since the All-Star break, as he has compiled a gaudy 4.33 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .273 opponents batting average with only three quality starts, giving up 21 earned runs including seven home runs, 14 walks and 54 strikeouts in 43.2 innings pitched in eight games. To put it into perspective, his teammates Hyun Jin Ryu, Yusei Kikuchi and Chris Bassitt have all produced better results than Gausman for the second half of the season thus far. In the end, the worry might not be whether or not Gausman can still win the AL Cy Young at the end of year because if he keeps pitching like he has recently, he might not even be the game one starter in the playoffs if the Jays do make it there.