So says the Washington Post:
On Thursday, two of the best pitchers in baseball, Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola went head to head and, according to ESPN, it was the first time a game featured two starters on the mound with ERAs under 2.25 in at least 150 innings since September 1985.
Over the next few weeks, one of these pitchers might emerge as the league’s Cy Young Award winner, and right now Nola has all the momentum.
Scherzer pitched seven innings for the Washington Nationals, striking out 10 with four walks — the most since Sept. 13 of last year — and just two earned runs. The 34-year-old wasn’t able to pad his major league-leading win total (16), but he did push his strikeout total to an MLB-best 244 to go with a 2.13 ERA. Nola, meanwhile, threw eight innings for the Philadelphia Phillies, striking out nine with a walk and no earned runs, boosting his overall record to 15-3 with an identical 2.13 ERA.
“Right when we needed him most,” Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after the game, “right when we needed him to step up, he really put the team on his shoulders and carried us. He just dominated.”
Nola has been the key cog for Philadelphia all season. He has been worth 5.4 wins above replacement, almost as much as teammates Nick Pivetta (2.8 fWAR) and Jake Arrieta (2.3 fWAR) combined, and has allowed 47 runs fewer than expected based on the number of outs and runners on base in each inning. Arrieta is second best on the team in that category, allowing close to five runs fewer than expected.
Plus, the Phillies are in the playoff race — FanGraphs gives them a 49 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason — while the Nationals all but threw in the towel by trading Daniel Murphy to the Chicago Cubs and Matt Adams to the St. Louis Cardinals. Voters don’t have to take that into account, but they could: