Give him the ball:
Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals SP
In 2009, Greinke picked up where Lee left off when it comes to unlikely winners, overcoming an anxiety disorder to become one of the hottest pitchers in baseball.
With a Kansas City team doomed to watch October baseball for yet another year, Greinke produced a 16 – 8 record while leading the Majors with an outstanding 2.16 ERA and striking out 242 batters, good for third best in the league. In 19 games when Greinke pitched at least seven innings, the Royals scored four runs or less 13 times. It has to make you wonder what type of season Greinke would have if he pitched on a team like the Angels or Yankees. There’s little doubt it would be a unanimous Cy Young award winning season. With the 2009 Royals, Greinke squeaks away with the trophy, but deservingly so.
Strong in relief:
CC Sabathia, New York Yankees SP
Sabathia was every bit the pitcher the Yankees were looking for when they forked over a seven-year, $161million dollar contract. He started 34 games while compiling a league-leading 19 wins along with eight losses and notching a 3.37 ERA. Historically a slow starter, Sabathia helped to fuel the Yankees’ strong second-half showing, turning it on since the All-Star break and posting an 11 – 2 record and with a 2.74 ERA. The biggest argument against Sabathia is the batting potential of the Yankees’ lineup. In 17 of the games that Sabathia has pitched, the Yankees have scored at least five runs or more. Another roadblock for Sabathia’s chances…..
Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees, RP
Okay, let’s hear it; relievers shouldn’t really be considered for Cy Young awards. Find the literature where it says that; simply, the award goes to the best pitcher in each league. There is no question that the Hammer of God will go down as the best relief pitcher to play the game. At age 39, he had one of his best seasons of an already illustrious career, with a 1.76 ERA, 44 saves out of 46 chances and a 0.90 WHIP. If the Yankees didn’t enjoy so many blowout wins this year, Rivera would have easily surpassed his career high of 53 saves. That said, the curse of having another Yankee in contention for the award leads to the dreaded split vote.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers SP
The experts predicted the perennial punching bag Tigers to finish dead last in the AL Central, yet the team hung onto first place since May all the way down to the bitter end. A big reason for their dramatic turnaround was Verlander. He started 35 games for the Tigers, earning a 19 – 9 record to match Sabathia for the league lead, pitching 240 innings while maintaining a 3.45 ERA and a Majors-leading 269 strikeouts. Unfortunately for Verlander’s Cy Young chances, the Tigers reeled in the last weeks of the season. Verlander did his best to get his team to the show, but the Tigers’ late-season nose dive could prove costly for his Cy Young chances.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners SP
Hernandez has quietly had a career year while playing on a team that gets little to no media attention. Hernandez started 34 games for the Mariners and compiled a 19-5 record in 238 innings. He put up a 2.49 ERA along with 217 strikeouts and an efficient 1.14 WHIP. In 21 games where Hernandez has pitched seven innings he compiled a commanding 12 – 0 record. Like Greinke, he suffers from lack of run support as the Mariners have been held to three runs or less in 11 of those 21 times Hernandez went seven.
Next in the rotation: National League Cy Young Recap