AP Photo – Pat Sullivan
The race for the National League Cy Young Award is fascinating. Front runners Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke may be neck and neck until the end of the season with Clayton Kershaw (last night’s loss not withstanding) hovering right behind them. All 3 are having amazing seasons and dominant finishes.
The American League Cy Young race might be decided in the final week as well, but for a different reason.
Front runner Dallas Keuchel and chief challenger Sonny Gray seem to be playing a game of “after you” and “no I couldn’t possibly, after YOU.”
As we saw last year, a strong finish can capture the Cy Young. Just remember Corey Kluber’s dynamite September snatching away the honor from King Felix Hernandez (who really only had a couple of bad games.)
This week, presumed leader Dallas Keuchel took the mound and needed to do what an ace does: His Astros needed a win desperately and they needed him to go long. What did he do against the Rangers?
He got clobbered and the Rangers padded their lead. A pair of first inning Rangers homers put the Astros in a 6-0 hole. Keuchel didn’t make it out of the fifth, allowing 11 hits (including 3 homers) and 9 runs, all of them earned. On the bright side, he didn’t walk anyone.
Keuchel still leads the league in wins and innings pitched and second in ERA. But his numbers are not as gaudy as they were in the first half.
Sonny Gray came into Houston last night, looking to make his case for the award. Hovering right behind Keuchel in innings pitched and ERA, Gray could make his move by dominating the reeling Astros.
The A’s gave Gray 6 runs to play with and it wasn’t enough. Gray didn’t make it out of the 6th, allowing 8 hits, 4 walks and 5 earned runs. He didn’t get the loss, but who are we kidding? An ace needs to give you at least 6 innings and fewer than 12 baserunners! The A’s lost 10-6. This is his third terrible start in his last 4 games.
On August 17, his ERA was 2.04. After today it is 2.72. Still a respectable number, but he has been far from an ace recently.
This of course could lead to David Price sneaking in. He has been dominant in 9 starts for the Blue Jays after 21 strong outings for Detroit. He already has 208 1/3 innings and leads the league in ERA and ERA+. He would be the first Cy Young winner to play on multiple teams since Rick Sutcliffe won the 1984 Cy for the Cubs after coming over in a deal from Cleveland.
Price next starts on Monday against the Yankees where he can inch Toronto closer to a Division Title. Maybe a great start could give him the numbers AND the narrative to win it.
Imagine stealing away a Cy Young award on the open free agent market for Price (joining NL Cy Young leader and free agent to be Zack Greinke.)
He should cash in well.
Meanwhile Keuchel and Gray have a few more starts to try and win this thing.
Come on guys! Act like you want it!