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Justin Verlander, Sandy Alcantara lead latest Cy Young poll

There’s still time for the Cy Young races to flip, but both frontrunners have given themselves some breathing room as we near the end of the regular season.

Last week saw the Astros’ Justin Verlander and the Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara cement their cases for the top spot in the American League and National League, respectively, as Verlander returned from the injured list to throw five hitless innings against the A’s, and Alcantara fired His MLB-leading fifth complete game of the season.

The two pitchers held steady as the leaders in MLB.com’s latest Cy Young poll.

Voters were asked to rank their top five Cy Young candidates in each league based on what’s happened so far and what they expect will happen down the stretch. Pitchers received vote points on a 5-4-3-2-1 scale — five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on, with 33 voters participating.

Here’s where things currently stand. (All stats are through Tuesday.)

Verlander’s late-August calf injury threatened to thrust the AL Cy Young race into uncertainty, but he was able to return in less than three weeks and showed no signs of rust while holding Oakland hitless over five innings on Friday. The 39-year-old leads MLB in ERA (1.78), WHIP (0.83) and opponents’ batting average (.185).

Showing no signs of slowing down in September, Cease has recorded a 1.35 ERA over his past 21 starts. He ranks second in the AL behind Verlander in ERA (2.13) and is second to Gerrit Cole in strikeouts (217).

McClanahan finished the first half with a sparkling 1.71 ERA, but he has faded since the All-Star break (3.94 ERA) while dealing with injuries. After returning from a left shoulder impingement to toss five scoreless innings on Sept. 15, McClanahan allowed five runs against the Astros on Tuesday before exiting with neck tightness.

Verlander may be the Cy Young favorite, but Valdez shouldn’t be overlooked. The ground-ball specialist made history with his 25th consecutive quality start on Sunday against the A’s, breaking Jacob deGrom’s record, and he has a 2.57 ERA over an AL-leading 185 2/3 innings.

How consistent has Manao been? He has allowed more than three runs only four times in 29 starts, and his ERA hasn’t climbed above 2.71 all year. The 24-year-old owns a 2.40 ERA with 168 K’s on the season and is only two innings behind Valdez for the AL lead.

Other receiving votes: Shohei Ohtani, Kevin Gausman, Emmanuel Clase, Shane Bieber, Gerrit Cole

So much for Alcantara’s second-half slide. Things got a little dicey when the righty allowed 16 earned runs over 23 2/3 innings in a four-start span from Aug. 21 through Sept. 8, but he reaffirmed his standing as the NL Cy Young frontrunner last week. After holding the Phillies to two runs over seven innings on Sept. 13, Alcantara went the distance for the fifth time this season in a 3-1 win over the Nationals on Sunday. While Alcantara ranks second in the NL in ERA (2.37) behind Julio Urías (2.27), he has thrown 54 more innings than the Dodgers lefty and 25 1/3 more than the next closest NL pitcher (Miles Mikolas with 187 1/3) .

Fried quietly owns MLB’s highest ERA+ (160) since the beginning of 2020 (164 in 2022), and he has taken a step forward this season with a career-best 5.13 K/BB ratio and 2.79 FIP. The Braves left-hander didn’t receive any first-place votes, but he got enough support to finish in second.

Urías has emerged as the Dodgers’ ace during a year when the lost team Walker Buehler to Tommy John surgery and also has been without Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Andrew Heaney and Dustin May for long stretches. The 26-year-old has grabbed hold of the NL lead with a 2.27 ERA, including a 1.30 mark over his past 11 starts.

After finishing fifth in the AL Cy Young race a year ago, Rodón could notch a top-five finish in the NL voting this season. He leads MLB in FIP (2.27) and the NL in K/9 (11.8) while putting up a 2.84 ERA with a career-high 220 K’s over 167 2/3 innings.

Gallen has joined the Cy Young conversation after compiling the seventh-longest scoreless innings streak in AL/NL history, a 44 1/3-inning run that began Aug. 8 and ended Sept. 11. The right-hander leads the NL with a 0.92 WHIP, and no qualifying MLB pitcher has allowed fewer hits per nine innings than Gallen (5.9).

Other receiving votes: Yu Darvish, Aaron Nola, Corbin Burnes, Kyle Wright, Edwin Díaz, Spencer Strider, Tony Gonsolin, Max Scherzer, Tyler Anderson

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