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Monday, December 18, 2017

Top five Cy Young contenders in each league

Corey Kluber

Both the American and National League have clear contenders for their respective Cy Young Awards this season, but the outcome of each race is still murky as we head into the final weeks of the season.

There’s a lot to consider in the races for both leagues. Here’s a look at the top five contenders for the Cy Young in each league.

American League

5) Dallas Keuchel, Astros

The neck issue that robbed Keuchel of two months’ worth of action also likely robbed him of any realistic chance to win the Cy Young award. The 2015 winner hasn’t quite been as good as he was that year, but he hasn’t been a lot worse, either, with a 1.12 WHIP and a 2.96 ERA. Prior to Justin Verlander’s late arrival from Detroit, he was the undisputed staff ace. If not for that injury — and a couple of ensuing hiccups as he worked himself back into game action — he’d be higher on this list.

4) Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox

Some people are hesitant to cast a Cy Young vote for a reliever, but in a year where the front-runners for the award are so obvious, those that aren’t will probably be backing Kimbrel. After all, Kimbrel has been the AL’s best reliever this season. He has a 1.38 ERA, 121 strikeouts in 65 innings, 33 saves, and the second best WHIP of his career at 0.66. He may even be poised to strike out over 50 percent of the batters he has faced — a feat that only he has accomplished. He’s been dominant — walks are low, strikeouts are high, and opponents have only managed to hit .133 off him. That’s pretty close to untouchable.

3) Luis Severino, Yankees

Severino’s exploits were somewhat quietly overshadowed by those of teammate Aaron Judge, particularly in the first half of the season. The young Yankee starter should get recognition in his own right, though, with a top three finish in Cy Young voting. The 23-year-old certainly looks like the next Yankee ace. He has a 2.93 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 184.1 innings. A 1.03 WHIP indicates that teams have really struggled to hit him. The young flamethrower should be rewarded for a very strong campaign with a solid finish in the voting.

2) Chris Sale, Red Sox

For much of the season, this award looked like Sale’s award to lose following a run that earned him some remarkable plaudits. Sale’s numbers across the board are still excellent, if a bit worse than they were earlier in the year. He looks to be on his way to a 300-strikeout campaign, having recorded 287 in 201 innings so far. His 2.86 ERA is still second among all qualified American League starters. Many voters won’t care, but he does still have the best FIP in the AL at 2.31. Sale is having an indisputably great season that would be rewarded with a Cy Young award in many other years.

1) Corey Kluber, Indians

The problem for Sale is that Kluber has gone into “Klubot” mode down the stretch and looks like he may have wrested the award away from him. Kluber’s 17 wins and 2.35 ERA both lead the American League — two numbers that a lot of the old guard of voters will have a very difficult time ignoring. There’s something for everyone in his stats — his 0.85 WHIP also leads the AL, he has the best ERA+ at 195, and he’s been the hardest pitcher to hit in the league this year, giving up just 6.1 hits per nine. Just as an added clincher, he’s driven Cleveland forward when they’ve needed it most; in ten starts since the beginning of August, Kluber has gone 9-1 with a 1.52 ERA. That’s how you make a closing argument.

See the National League contenders on Page 2

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