With about two weeks left in the 2023 season, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele is now favored to win the National League Cy Young award according to a recent MLB.com poll.
Steele's latest outing was a seven-inning affair with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where the 28-year-old southpaw gave up one earned run and struck out six batters. This start plunged Steele's ERA down to an MLB-best 2.49 and edged him in front of San Diego Padres ace Blake Snell (2.52).
Steele is also tied for the MLB lead in wins with 16 with a WHIP of 1.13 (7th in NL). The Cubs' ace has also caught up to Snell in innings pitched with 159 for Steele and 161 for Snell. Cubs manager David Ross has been letting Steele go further in games lately and he's completed at least six innings in his last five starts.
The areas where Steele is deficient compared to others is strikeouts, as Snell currently has 209 to Steele's 159. Snell's batting average against is also sitting at an impressive .192 with Steele's significantly higher at .242. However, Snell is also leading the league in walks with 92. Although not many of these walks turn into runs, it would be pretty jarring for the NL Cy Young winner also to lead the league in free passes.
The voting will almost definitely come down to each man's final start of the year. Snell is slated to make four more while Steele will likely only have three left. If Steele comes out on top, he be the sixth Cub in history to take home the most coveted pitching award and the first since Jake Arrieta in 2015.