Burnes and Scherzer finished the regular season almost even in terms of betting odds; Burnes was +100 while Scherzer was +115. The other finalist was Philadelphia Phillies SP Zack Wheeler, who had a great season but couldn’t overtake either of Burnes and Scherzer in voting.
Burnes had the best ERA in the MLB at 2.43 while leading the League in strikeout rate (35.6), K/9 (12.6) and K/BB ratio (6.88). He also had the highest WAR among pitchers at 7.5 and had 234 strikeouts in 167 innings pitched this season. The Brewers were able to win the NL Central crown before losing to the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves in the NLDS in four games.
Scherzer began the season with the Washington Nationals before being dealt to the Dodgers prior to the MLB Trade Deadline. He helped the Dodgers advance to the NLCS before also losing to the Braves. The 3-time Cy Young winner went 15-4 between the two clubs, racking up 236 strikeouts while leading the League in WHIP (0.86) with a 15-4 record.
Wheeler was signed by the Phillies from the rival New York Mets in free agency prior to the 2020 season. He was great in limited action for the Phils last season, but put together a great campaign in 2021. Wheeler was 14-10 with a 2.78 ERA while leading the NL in strikeouts at 247 with three complete games and two shutouts.