AL Cy Young Watch


Cy Young award

The Sports Bank’s AL Cy Young Watch is back for installment number two, and perhaps some things could be learned from each of the original five contenders that were listed in the July edition:

1.  Cliff Lee, SP, Texas Rangers:  Be wary of the inning totals
2.  David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays:  Be wary of the youth
3.  Jon Lester, SP, Boston Red Sox:  Be wary of the catastrophic start
4.  Carl Pavano, SP, Minnesota Twins:  Be wary of the surprise contender
5.  C.C. Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees:  Be wary of the consistent horse

Each of those can be taken different ways, but in the case of Lee, Price, and especially Pavano, they are not ringing endorsements.

Pavano has stopped winning (2-4 in August), which was his only chance of taking the award considering his low strikeout totals.  Maybe we were on his bandwagon a little prematurely considering his last five years in the majors.

Lee’s 1-4 record and 6.2 ERA in August may be due to fatigue, as he was second in the AL in innings entering August.

Price had his second straight month with an ERA over three, and only tallied one win over the month of August.  Is the lack of experience starting to hurt him down the stretch?

In the case of Jon Lester, it was not a negative month, but one awful start (2IP, 9ER vs. Toronto August 20th) negated his otherwise spectacular performances (four other starts, three with 0ER).

The one man that seems to never slow down regardless of the surroundings or time of year is the one man of those five that we did not mention, and he is the one that sits atop the AL Cy Young Watch with one month to play.

1.    C.C. Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees. Sabathia continues to do nothing but win ballgames for the majors best team.

After a 5-1 August in which he posted a 3.12 ERA, Sabathia now has put up a three-month run of having given up more than three earned runs in a game only once.  He is 13-2 in those starts and leads the AL with 18 wins and is also in the top ten in strikeouts and ERA.

Sabathia may not have the gaudiest WHIP, ERA, or strikeout numbers, but the best pitcher on the best team in baseball is a guaranteed win nearly every time he takes the mound.

CC Sabathia

2.   Clay Bucholz, SP, Boston Red Sox. This man didn’t even make the top five in our last installment, but that is merely because he was on the    disabled for a month and still had to prove he was back to 100% to make the inaugural edition of the ALCYW.

Don’t look now, but he’s back with a vengance.

His August was as good as anyone in baseball, posting a 4-0 record with a microscopic 1.03 ERA.  He now leads the AL in ERA and his 15-5 record is impressive in an AL East that has four teams well above .500.

Bucholz is not a strikeout pitcher, but does remain in the top ten in the league in WHIP and could get to 20 wins on a team that continues to struggle.

3.   C.J. Wilson, SP, Texas Rangers. A man that got no love from the ALCYW just one month ago has now jumped squarely into the race as a legitimate contender.

Wilson was overshadowed by the acquisition of Cliff Lee and his sparkling numbers up until the last month, but C.J. can no longer be ignored, especially with the crash-and-burn August for Lee.

Take out a three-start stretch in May and Wilson has given up more than three earned runs in a start only once this year.  He is 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA this month and 11-2 with a 2.4 ERA over the last three months.

Wilson doesn’t have great strikeout or WHIP numbers, but they definitely won’t hurt him.

The only downside of Wilson’s Cy resume is his lack of control reflected by the 77 walks he has surrendered this year, the most in the AL.

Even with that fact, he has been consistently spectacular in every other department this year for the Rangers and has been one of the main catalysts of this turnaround season for Texas.

4.   Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners. A long shot?  Yes.  Impossible?  Not if the Mariners offense can give King Felix a few runs here and there.

Hernandez is top five in virtually every category that means something to a pitcher’s success; ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, you name it he’s right there.

All of them, that is, except that pesky wins category, and it’s been well chronicled, W’s are big factor in choosing a Cy Young winner.

Hernandez 25 quality starts is the best in the AL, and his five complete games ranks third.

Felix has logged four months of an ERA under 2.5, including this month, where it sits at a nice and tidy 0.98.

Perhaps the most astounding stat is that Hernandez has gotten the no decision or loss 15 times in games where he has given up 3 earned runs or less.

Put Felix on a pitching staff that doesn’t have to deal with the worst offense in baseball and he’d be right there in the conversation, but instead he will be fighting an uphill battle to be a true contender for this award.

Felix Hernandez

5.   Trevor Cahill, SP, Oakland Athletics. Cahill continues to very quietly put up fantastic numbers on the forgotten coast.

While coming in third in the AL in ERA at 2.82, Cahill is sitting at second in WHIP at 1.05 and is tied for 6th in wins with 14.

Until his catastrophic start Monday (4IP, 8ER), which may end up costing him any chance of winning the Cy Young, he was much higher on this list.

Still, with the way he was pitching prior to that start (four of last six starts with 0ER), he has a chance to turn it back around and make a late charge, especially in a AL where pitchers aren’t exactly jumping up to grab the award.

Fell out of the rankings:
Jon Lester, SP, Boston Red Sox
Carl Pavano, SP, Minnesota Twins
David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Cliff Lee, SP, Texas Rangers

Jered Weaver, SP, LA Angels:  Leads the AL in strikeouts, but much like Felix, can’t get any help (21 quality starts, 11-10 record).  If LA starts winning, he might get a look.

They’ll Be Back:
David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays:  Nothing against David, but there are pitchers putting up better numbers at the moment.  Combine that with his last two months being extremely average (4-3, 3.8 ERA), and you have a pitcher that will need to do a little more to get back on this list.
Jon Lester, SP, Boston Red Sox:  Same story with Lester, last two months just ok (5-5, 3.5 ERA), and the Sox will need more from him if they want to make that playoff run.  The ALCYW will need more from him if he wants back on this list.

-Mike Gallagher

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