by Chris Schwarze
September’s arrival marks the beginning of the end of the baseball season (ending exactly one month from today); the past few weeks have been an exciting battle between pitchers in the American League for the coveted Cy Young award.
American League Cy Young pitchers, for the past decade, have averaged an ERA of 2.57 and have close to twenty wins or higher. The AL Pitchers I expect to be in this statistical ballpark (ha!) are Cole Hamels of the Texas Rangers, Cleveland’s ace Corey Kluber, Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale, J.A. Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, and last but not least, Boston’s very own Rick Porcello.
Surprisingly enough, Hamels is the only pitcher I’ve listed with an ERA below 3.00; he pitched a gem against my beloved first-place Indians a week ago, going 8 full innings and allowing only two hits. Although Hamels has been a bit shaky since the start of the season, having struggled (and failed) to get through 5 innings in almost a third of his starts, he has proved to be quite a weapon when he’s playing otherwise.
If the 2014 AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber wins another Cy Young following this season, he will be the fourth Indian in the last 10 years to have the award. The paramount member of the Indians starting big three has been very consistent this season, turning things well around from his 9-16 record last season, and looking like the 2014 Corey Kluber who beat out David Price among others for the Cy Young Award. Kluber, with 3 complete games thus far, boasts a 15-8 record. If he keeps pitching the way he has been, Kluber may be the 18th pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards.
Another pitcher with 15 wins as of today, White Sox pitcher, Chris Sale, came out of the gates on fire this season, winning 13 of his first 15 starts. His performance has declined since the all-star break, but if Sale can pitch strong in this coming month he will likely be at the top of the leaderboard once again.
Speaking of pitching strong again, Justin Verlander has had a stellar comeback to his 5-8 record last season. The Tigers veteran right-hander is arguably pitching at his best since 2012, the year subsequent to his Cy Young award success. Currently, Verlander is behind just Rays pitcher, Chris Archer, for most strikeouts in the AL, and has gained some momentum moving into September racking up three consecutive wins to end August. Like Kluber, Verlander is playing the way he used to and, if he can cut down on the home runs he’s allowed, he may very well be the next pitcher with multiple Cy Youngs.
J.A. Happ’s dominance in winning games has yielded him the top ESPN prediction for the Cy Young Award, and has certainly aided his team into holding first place in the AL East for so long. Besides the last two losses he has pitched, Happ had won 12 consecutive games totaling 21 earned runs in 74.2 innings pitched. Similarly, Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello leads the MLB in wins, and is rolling into September with 7 or more innings pitched in every game since July 24th. Simply put, Porcello is consistent and reliable. I would much like to see his name next to Pedro on the list of Red Sox Cy Young winners. If he continues to pitch the way he has been, he certainly could be.
There’s my breakdown on the AL Cy Young Race. Who do you have winning? Comment below or tweet me @chris_schwarze