In 2022, the ERA title will go to him…

ERA doesn’t say everything we need to know about a shooter, and advanced metrics like FIP or Statcast xEFE dig a little deeper into underlying factors. However, the traditional statistic remains a useful barometer and still carries weight when it comes to Cy Young Award voting.

In 2021, the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes (2.43) led the Majors in that category. (And don’t forget that part of winning the EFE crown is adding the necessary innings, in this case one for each game played by your team).

With the 2022 season drawing ever closer, here are five writers’ predictions on who will lead MLB in ERA this year:

Walker Buehler — Dodgers
Key stat: 2.82 ERA as a starter since 2018

I was left with the established horse, a pitcher who is always a candidate to win this category and who is also entering what is supposed to be his best years. Buehler has already won a World Series and has a great resume in October (2.94 ERA in 15 postseason starts) and now it’s time to start adding up his regular-season accomplishments. The right-hander has the fourth-best ERA in MLB (minimum 400 innings) since he joined the Dodgers’ rotation four years ago. It’s his turn to win this crown.

Dylan Cease — White Stockings
Key stat: 32% strikeout rate, 12.3 K/9s in 2021

Cease is coming off a breakthrough season with the White Sox in 2021, he is just 26 years old and will be working for the second year with pitching coach Ethan Katz. He has an electric arsenal, with a powerful fastball that averages nearly 97 mph, a curveball that drops nine inches higher than average, a slider that generated a 50% swing miss rate last year, and a very effective changeup (48 % rate of failed swings). The right-hander controlled his arsenal last year and posted a 3.91 ERA with 226 strikeouts in 165 2/3 innings, while also leading the league with 12.3 K/9s. As long as the opponents are not hitting the ball it is easier to keep your effectiveness very low.

Corbin Burnes — Brewers
Key stat: 1.99 xEFE in 2021

Burnes, the 2021 NL Cy Young winner, had one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory, and yet it could be argued that his 2.43 ERA, the best in all of baseball, doesn’t reflect all that dominance. what was it His expected ERA, a metric based on quality of contact, strikeouts and walks, was 1.99, third-best in the majors. And his 1.63 FIP, for his part, was the best mark for a pitcher since Pedro Martínez (1.39) in 1999.

For opposing batsmen, there is nothing easy against Burnes, who combines an impressive arsenal with exceptional control. The cutter and right-handed curveball are the stars of his repertoire, but he can also throw a big changeup, slider and sinker. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see him drop an ERA below 2.00 in 2022. That’s how good the 27-year-old is.

Zack Wheeler — Phillies
Key stat: 213.1 innings pitched in 2021, 1st in MLB

Burnes won the ERA title last year, but Wheeler pitched 46 1/3 more innings while posting a 2.79 xERA and 2.59 FIP, both second in the majors among qualified pitchers behind the Milwaukee right-hander.

Wheeler has pitched more than 180 innings in each of the last three full seasons (not counting 2020). Only two pitchers have worked more than his 662 innings since 2018, and only five innings separate them: Gerrit Cole (667 innings) and Wheeler’s rotation partner in Philadelphia, Aaron Nola (666.2).

Jacob deGrom — Mets
Key stat: 1.94 ERA since 2018

The only question surrounding deGrom is his health and whether he’ll be able to pitch the 162 innings required to qualify for the ERA lead.

DeGrom’s dominance in recent years, when he’s been on the mound, has been simply overwhelming, dispatching hitters thanks to a 100-mph fastball, a devastating slider, a big changeup and a nice curveball he rarely needs. That 1.94 ERA mentioned above is more than a half-run better than any other starter in the past four seasons, and deGrom was even better in 2021, allowing just 11 earned runs in 15 starts through early July.

Unfortunately, persistent elbow inflammation derailed his pursuit of Bob Gibson’s ERA record (1.12 in 1968). deGrom is 33 years old and there are no guarantees for the future. But if we trust that he will be able to stay on the mound, there is no reason to think that he will not once again be one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues.

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In 2022, the ERA title will go to him…