Pair of Phillies starters on track to complete a rare Cy Young feat

Led by their two top aces, the Phillies could accomplish an incredible feat that has only occurred five times in baseball history.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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The Philadelphia Phillies currently hold the top spot in the National League, and while the bats have been hot, the pitching staff has really taken them to the next level.

The 2020s version of the "Four Aces" has been better to this point than that fabled rotation. Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez, Aaron Nola and Cristopher Sánchez have been putting together outstanding seasons, with the highest ERA of the bunch coming from Nola at 3.48.

Being almost 70 games through the season, end-of-season award predictions and rankings are beginning to surface as the sample size and body of work for each player is coming together. According to Thomas Harrigan, MLB.com's experts predict something special happening in the NL Cy Young race for the Phillies.

Pair of Phillies starters on track to complete a rare Cy Young feat

In the first rendition of the voting for the 2024 season, Wheeler came in first with 15 first-place votes, with Suárez right behind him with 14 first-place votes.

The rest of the top five was rounded out by Tyler Glasnow, the only other pitcher to receive first-place votes with three, Chris Sale and Shota Imanaga.

Since the inception of the Cy Young Award in 1956, teammates have finished in the top two spots only five times (by four pairs of teammates) with the most recent in 2019 when Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole accomplished the feat for the Astros, per Sarah Langs.

The 34-year-old Wheeler has been the same old, if not better, version of himself. Over the course of 14 starts, the Georgia native has pitched to a career-best 2.16 ERA while also striking out 9.8 batters per nine innings. He has gone at least seven innings in half of his starts and has thrown over 100 pitches in nine of them — a complete workhorse for the Phillies.

While he has been close, finishing second in 2021, Wheeler is still chasing the Cy Young crown. As of now he seems to be the front runner, but his teammate is right on his tails.

The Power Ranger, Suárez, has shown his true prowess in 2024. Starting the season with nine straight wins and now 10-1, he has stood at the top of the wins leaderboard for most of the year.

The Venezuelan also leads the league in ERA (1.81), WHIP (0.854), ERA+ (223), win percentage (.909) and is tied for the league lead with one shutout. His incredible stat line comes off the back of a 32-inning scoreless streak in April. During the streak, Suárez dropped his ERA from 4.09 all the way to 1.32 while striking out 33 batters.

While the lifelong Phillie has been impressive this season, the tendencies lean towards a better second half for Wheeler.

Historically, both pitchers have performed better in the second half over their careers. If that were to happen again this season, MLB would see one of the best Cy Young races of all time.

Wheeler, however, shows a significant increase in his second-half performance, with an ERA 0.81 lower than his career first-half ERA, while Suárez only gains 0.14 on his second-half ERA compared to his first.

Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suárez aren't the only Phillies in the mix

With a rotation dubbed better than the Four Aces, you can't only focus on the top two. While they've been outstanding, the supposed No. 3 and No. 4 pitchers have been nearly as dominant.

Nola is back to being "even year Nola" after struggling last season. He had a 2.77 ERA heading into Thursday's start, the second-best mark of his career. He received top five votes and was the second man left off the list, only behind Max Fried.

The former LSU Tiger is very familiar with Cy Young races, finishing in the top seven three times and in the top four twice. Much like Wheeler, Nola is a workhorse who consistently gives the Phillies 200 innings with an above-average to elite ERA+ every year. Unlike the others, however, Nola typically pitches better in the first half.

The other Phillies pitcher who received votes is Sánchez, who has finally got himself a full-time gig in the starting five.

Like the others, the 27-year-old is having a career year pitching to a 3.07 ERA over 70 1/3 innings, only 29 innings shy of his career-high. While he was the second last name mentioned on the list, it does mean he received at least one vote and in MLB.com's eyes, that makes him a top-15 NL pitcher.

The Phillies have the chance to do something that has been done fewer times than a perfect game. With the outstanding pitching that they are getting from their rotation, it wouldn't be surprising to see at least two, if not more, Phillies at the top of the Cy Young voting.

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