The American League Cy Young race is full of the usual suspects. You usually have a dominant picther from the Yankees and Red Sox (check), one from the AL Central division leader (check), and a few dark horses that are no longer in the divisional race (check). Check out who are the favorites and who could come from behind over their last 7 or 8 starts of the season.
Justin Verlander – He is tha anchor of a nice pitching staff in Detroit. He currently 14-7 with a 3.38 ERA and has an alarming 211 strikeouts in only 181 innings of work this season. He had a dismal 2008 season and it is nice that he bounced back. The Tigers are currently winning their division, but it could hurt him that he won’t get as much exposure as pitchers on the Red Sox and Yankees. I think he will at least finish in the top three in voting and could take the award.
C.C. Sabathia – He had a rough start to the season, but over the last two months, he has been great. It helps him that he gets a lot of run support from the modern-day “Murder’s Row” the Yankees have assembled. He has a fairly high ERA to be up for the Cy Young, he’s currently at 3.59. He is leading the league in wins (15-7) and his WHIP is 1.13, which is great. It will help him that he’s on the Yankees and that he probably should have won the award last season, but he switched leagues mid-season.
Roy Halladay – His season has been marred with “Am I getting traded?…okay, how about now?” banter all season. He has had a great year despite all of the distractions, he’s 13-7 with a 3.03 ERA. He has been a workhorse with five complete games and will easily get to 200 innings this year. He’s still a leading candidate for the Cy Young, even if his chances aren’t as great as Verlander or Sabathia’s at getting another Cy Young.
Zack Greinke – If the season ended at the beginning of June, then Greinke would have been the unanimous winner, but the Royals hit bottom and Greinke had a few bad starts. He still had a great year and is still leading the AL in ERA with a 2.43, a full .3 a head of the next guy on the list, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez at 2.73. Greinke has a 12-8 record with 5 complete games, if he were on a contender, I am confident that he would be a 20-game winner. He is also currently 2nd in the AL in strikeouts with 197. If he had run support, Greinke would be in stronger position to win the AL Cy Young.
Josh Beckett – The Red Sox may not win the AL East this year, but they are fighting for their Wild Card life. Beckett has helped them by pitching well, but he has been erratic at times. He has a 3.65 ERA, but is 14-5 this year. He had a month-long stretch that he barely gave up any hits, but that streak has ended and he’s hittable again. I would say that he’s a dark horse to win it, unless he can pull out a perfect game between now and the end of the season.
Scott Feldman – The young ace of the Texas Rangers isn’t used to being considered for end of the year awards, but he deserves a little recognition. He’s currently 13-4 with a 3.87 ERA for the Rangers, but only has 84 strikeouts, but that isn’t his expertise. He has helped the Rangers contend for the AL Wild Card and with Kevin Milwood, Dexter Holland, and Tommy Hunter has transformed the Rangers starting rotation. He has too high of an ERA to win, but should garner some votes.
Jared Weaver – Weaver had a horrible first couple weeks of the season. At one point his ERA was nearing double digits. Over the last few months, he has trimmed his ERA down to 4.03. He is 13-5 with 143 strikeouts for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Over the course of his dominance, they have bolted all the way to the best record in the American League. Weaver also has a high ERA to win this award, but the way he has pitched lately could change some minds.
Jeff Niemann – At the beginning of the year, The Tampa Bay Rays were needing to trim down their starting rotation and Niemann was almost the odd man out. He has pitched great this year and especially at home in Tropicana Field, he has a 2.67 ERA at home. This season, Niemann is 12-5 with a 3.87 ERA, something that the Rays didn’t expect from him, those numbers were expected out of David Price, Scott Kazmir, or Andy Sonnanstine. He’s not a sexy pick for the Cy Young, but if can get the Rays into the playoffs and dominantly pitch the rest of the way, there’s a slim chance.
I would say that award is Justin Verlander’s to lose. He just has to stay the course and pitch consistently and he should take it home. C.C. Sabathia should finish second, but as much press that the Yankees garner, he could leapfrog Verlander if they keep winning and getting ample run support for their pitchers. At this point it’s too close to call, but when it’s all said and done, Verlander should finally win the AL Cy Young.