David Price is pitching his way towards a Cy Young award.
The Tampa Bay Rays' ace is pitching the best season of his young career and possibly the best in the history of the franchise. His 16 wins are the best in the American League, and tied with Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto and Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez for the major league lead.
Although Price is on pace to be the first 20-game winner in Rays history, it’s not something he thinks about going into each start, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
"Obviously, 20 wins would be awesome. But it's not something I sit here and think about before or after my starts," he said. "Right now my focus is on 17 and my next start.
"If I can get there, it would be awesome. If not, hopefully I can continue to throw the ball the way I have and the Rays come out with a win on that day even if I don't get the decision."
Wins alone don’t guarantee a Cy Young award.
Rewind back to 2010, when Felix Hernandez edged out both Price and New York Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia to win the award. Hernandez won only 13 games compared to Price and Sabathia’s 19 and 21 wins respectively. It ultimately was Hernandez’s major league-leading 2.27 ERA that sealed the deal for him.
Who should win 2012 AL Cy Young Award?
This year, Price has all the numbers on his side, making his candidacy a very strong one.
In the AL, he currently ranks first in wins (16), first in ERA (2.39), sixth in SO (159), seventh in IP (162.0), fourth in opponents’ avg. (.221), second opponents’ SLG (.318) and fourth in opponents’ OPS (.604).
The combination of his wins and ERA, if sustained, should prove to be enough to win the award above the other contenders. Since the Cy Young was awarded to both leagues in 1967, 18 of the 19 pitchers to lead either league in both wins and ERA have won the Cy Young.
He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down either.
His current eight-game winning streak is the longest in Rays history, and the longest active streak in the majors. In his last 10 starts, Price has won seven games with a 1.51 ERA. He has allowed one earned run or less in 10 of his last 16 starts.
Price has put together the type of season so far that should make him the leader in the clubhouse for the Cy Young. If he is able to maintain his dominance as we enter the final month of the season, it will be very hard to justify anyone else winning.
Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.