Brewers ace Corbin Burnes wins National League Cy Young Award, edging Phillies’ Zack Wheeler
The last time a Milwaukee Brewers pitcher won a Cy Young award, the franchise was in the American League.
Nearly four decades later, Corbin Burnes became the first Brewer to win a National League Cy Young award, narrowly beating out Zack Wheeler and three-time winner Max Scherzer in voting by Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Pete Vuckovich was the last Brewers pitcher to claim the trophy in 1982, when Milwaukee resided in the AL East and won the pennant.
Burnes, 11-5 in 28 starts, received 12 of the 30 first-place votes for a total of 151 points, edging the Phillies’ Wheeler who finished with 141. The right-handed Wheeler also received 12 first-place votes after going 14-10 with a 2.78 ERA and 247 strikeouts in 2021.
Scherzer, who combined to go 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA and 236 strikeouts between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, finished third in voting.
Burnes had been trending as one of the top pitchers in the league after finishing sixth in NL Cy Young voting during the shortened 2020 season. The right-hander led a stable full of solid starters that combined for a 3.13 ERA – second-best in the majors. He led the league in earned run average (2.43), strikeout rate (35.6%), strikeouts per nine innings (12.6) while allowing the fewest home runs per nine innings (0.38).
And most remarkably, his 1.63 FIP over a full season was vintage – a mark not seen since Pedro Martinez in 1999.
The only slight to his impressive resume might be his workload. He tossed 167 innings – the fewest ever for a Cy Young winner – which ranked 19th in the NL and less than Wheeler (213 ⅓) and Scherzer (179 ⅓).
He missed two weeks of the season after testing positive for COVID-19.
His case for the award began on April 3 when he started the season with 58 consecutive strikeouts before walking his first batter, the longest streak in the majors since 1893. On Aug. 11 against the Chicago Cubs, he tied the MLB record with 10 consecutive strikeouts and finished with 15, the second-highest single-game total in franchise history.
A month later, Burnes pitched eight no-hit innings in Cleveland and combined with Josh Hader on just the second no-hitter in Brewers history.
Burnes is the first Brewer to finish in the top three of voting since Teddy Higuera in 1986.
He also becomes the third Milwaukee pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, following Vukovich and Rollie Fingers in 1981.
Walker Buehler (Dodgers), Brandon Woodruff (Brewers), Kevin Gausman (Giants), Adam Wainwright (Cardinals), Julio Urias (Dodgers) and Jacob deGrom (Mets) also received votes in the NL.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brewers’ Corbin Burnes wins National League Cy Young Award