This week, the name on everybody’s lips, Justin Verlander, became the sixth player in MLB history to have three career no hitters. As the eight-time All-Star once again gears up for post-season, could he win his second American League Cy Young award?
Verlander has been in the running several times before but his first taste of the AL Cy Young was back in 2011 when he was the undisputed winner; he had reached 1000 career strikeouts, he had recorded his second no-hitter at the time and by the end the year he had completed the Triple Crown, leading the AL in strikeouts, wins and ERA (2.40). Not only was it the right decision he won the accolade, but it was fitting he won the MVP award as well.
The years following haven’t been as kind to the Astros pitcher. He was the runner-up in the 2012 season, behind then-Tampa Bay Ray’s David Price. Unfortunately for Verlander, Price was the youngest pitcher to reach a 20-win record, which was also the tying record for league wins that year and also led in ERA. He won the award by four points.
Verlander did help Detroit get into the World Series, but in Game 1 he gave up 5 ER runs in 4 IP. The San Francisco Giants went onto win that game 8-3, and eventually swept the Tigers.
Verlander also came second in the infamous 2016 AL Cy Young award. Now, if you asked me back then, and I still have the same feeling toward it now, I think Rick Porcello, the eventual winner of the Cy Young award, fared better throughout the year whereas leading up to the All-Star break, Verlander’s stats were 8-6 and a 4.07 ERA. It was some second half to the season to finish 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA (second in the league) and he was leading in WAR. Porcello won by five votes; he had led in winning record (22-4) but the controversy arose from Porcello only receiving eight first place votes out of 30, compared to Verlander’s 14 – but because two people left the latter off their vote completely, whereas the former was nearly everyone’s second choice.
He was also the bridesmaid in 2018, the year after he and Houston won the World Series. But there was less controversy in this one, as eventual winner Blake Snell had posted an 1.89 ERA, led the majors in wins with 21. He won the vote while receiving 17 of the 30 first place votes, compared to Verlander’s 13.
With Houston’s pitcher leading the league in ERA, wins and WHIP, he looks favourite to take the award, but who else could he finish up being second to?
It’s no fun when two players from the same team go head-to-head for the such an award, but the closest in both betting and stats is Verlander’s teammate Gerrit Cole.
Having started one less game and pitched 16.9 less innings, Cole has the same amount as earned runs, and a slightly higher ERA (2.56 v 2.81). But he is reachable to Verlander on that along with his WHIP (0.77 v 0.95) and he leads in strikeouts (266 v 257).
A couple of starts where he could dominate, and he could go above in those stats. It’ll be harder to bridge the gap of the Wins Above Replacement- but if the rest are there, we may see Verlander come second, once again.
Could a Tampa Bay Rays pitcher be the thorn in Justin Verlander’s side once again? Well they certainly do have a record of doing that, and Charlie Morton could be no different. He’s a bit further out stats-wise than the former two pitchers I’ve already mentioned, but as we’re in the final few weeks, he could always give them a run for their money. His ERA is currently at 3.06 (the same as, yet another Houston pitcher whose up there, Wade Miley), and only has three more earned runs. Could he up his strikeouts, WAR and curve his WHIP ever so slightly, and we have another contender on our hands.
Apart from this though, it does scream volumes that when you look at the American League statistics for pitching, the top three are all from the Astros. And that’s why at +350 to win the World Series, it’s a good place to put your money.
By Jasmine Baba