In 2015 Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw combined for 455.1 innings, a 1.90 ERA, and 501 SO’s for the 92 win Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the NL CY Young voting.
Across the country in the NL East, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are poised to have a similar impact in 2016 for the Washington Nationals.
Scherzer is an obvious CY Young candidate. He is coming off a season in which he logged 2 no-hitters and struck out 276 batters in route to a 2.79 ERA.
Since arriving in the big leagues in 2010 there has been little doubt that Strasburg had the stuff of a future CY Young award winner. In a walk year in 2016 he will make good on that potential.
Coming off a disappointing campaign that saw him miss time with injuries to his neck, shoulder, and oblique one might think that expecting an elite season from Strasburg would be a stretch.
None of the injuries where severe though, and Strasburg still posted and impressive 11 K/9 in 2015 and his 2.81 FIP was actually lower than the figure he posted when he led the league with 242 SO’s in 2014.
If Strasburg stays healthy and posts a season similar to his 2014 campaign and Scherzer can repeat his 2015 performance, the Nationals duo should surpass Greinke and Kershaw’s 501 K output from 2015.
Of course strike outs aren’t the only measure of a pitchers performance. Greinke’s strike out output specifically doesn’t compare to Kershaw, Scherzer, or Strasburg, but Greinke is still one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
Full seasons from Scherzer and Strasburg could result in more than the 501 K’s from the Dodgers tandem in 2015, but, even if that’s the case they would have a hard time meeting the sub 2 ERA run prevention numbers from Greinke and Kershaw last year.
In fact Scherzer has only posted a sub 3 ERA in his career twice and Strasburg has never done it in a season where he has made 20 or more starts. So the Nats top two arms would be doing well to post a combined ERA under 3.00, let alone 2.00.
Even if meeting their run prevention stats is unlikely, Scherzer and Strasburg will still take hold of the top 1, 2 punch a top a major league rotation with Greinke signing with the D-Backs in the offseason.
The Nationals pair will benefit from playing in a division that includes the lowly Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Scherzer will continue to make good on the 7 year, $210 million dollar contract he signed before the start of last season, and Strasburg will reach finally put it all together and earn himself his own $30 million a year salary when he becomes a free agent after 2016.
Scherzer and Stasburg will both finish in the top 5 of the NL CY Young voting and they will help lead the Nationals to the 2016 NL East crown.