Reds: 5 instances Cincinnati pitchers almost won the NL Cy Young

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 23: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 23: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Mario Soto #36 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches
MONTREAL, QU – CIRCA 1985: Mario Soto #36 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

2. Mario Soto (1983)

Winner:  John Denny

It was only a matter of time before right-hander Mario Soto would contend for pitching’s ultimate prize. Since making his debut as a 20-year-old during the 1977 season, the Cincinnati Reds front office was convinced they had an ace in the making. It didn’t take long for the Dominican native to reward their trust.

Entering his age 23 season in 1980, Soto would finish fifth in the Cy Young voting during a campaign in which he would allow the fewest hits per nine innings in the National League while also earning top honors in K/9 rate in the senior circuit. However, Soto was just getting warmed up.

He would make his first All-Star appearance in 1982, during a season in which he would also lead the NL in WHIP and tally a ninth-place finish in the Cy Young voting. This was just the calm before the storm of the 1983 season when Soto’s devasting changeup would have hitters shaking their heads as they made their way back towards the dugout.

Mario Soto would end the 1983 campaign 17-13 with a sparkling 2.70 ERA. He would lead the NL with a mind-boggling 18 complete games as well as finishing second in strikeouts, innings pitched and WHIP. Earning his second All-Star appearance, Soto would also finish 14th in the MVP voting.

Despite all of Soto’s greatness, he would not be able to overcome Phillies right-hander John Denny in the Cy Young race. Denny would lead the NL with 19 wins against just 6 defeats in helping Philadelphia reach the Fall Classic.

However, it was Denny’s work down the stretch that ultimately give him the top prize as he was named the NL’s Pitcher of the Month in September while leading the Phillies to the postseason. Interestingly, Denny and Soto’s paths would cross again during the 1986 season.

Denny would finish his 13-year career making 27 starts and going 11-10 as a member of the Redlegs. Unfortunately, arm trouble was beginning to rob Soto of what had been an outstanding career. Mario Soto would go 5-10 in 19 starts and he would only make 20 starts over the next two campaigns before injuries ended his career at just 31-years old.