Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander was announced as the winner of the 2019 American League Cy Young Award Wednesday over teammate Gerrit Cole. The Tampa Bay Rays' Charlie Morton was the other finalist.
Verlander beat out Cole by 12 points, receiving four more first-place votes than his teammate.
The Cy Young chase became a virtual two-horse race between the Astros' pair of aces during the latter stages of the 2019 season.
Houston finished the campaign with the best ERA (3.61) and most strikeouts (1,063) from its star-studded starting rotation in the AL.
Here's a look at the final numbers for the club's Cy Young finalists:
- Cole: 20-5 record, 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 326 strikeouts in 33 starts
- Verlander: 21-6 record, 2.58 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 300 strikeouts in 34 starts
In September, Cole told Bob Nightengale of USA Today he was just happy the other top contender was in the same rotation as him.
"We don't bring up the Cy Young stuff," he said. "We know it's there, but we don't need to talk about it. I came across a quote recently from (author) Peggy Noonan, and she said, 'If you have a competitor running in the same race and when you're done, sometimes you wish you enjoyed just running the race.' I thought that was really applicable."
Meanwhile, Astros superstar second baseman Jose Altuve was effusive in his praise of the tandem.
"What they are doing is amazing, probably the best duo in baseball history," Altuve told Nightengale. "I don't know which would be harder, facing those guys or trying to pick which one wins the Cy Young. Thank God, I don't have to make that decision."
They also helped lead Houston to the 2019 World Series, where it lost to the Washington Nationals in seven games. That postseason run didn't factor in award voting, though.
It's the second Cy Young for the 36-year-old Virginia native, who captured his first in 2011 while a member of the Detroit Tigers. His impressive career resume also features the 2011 AL MVP Award and the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Verlander is under contract for 2020 with a $33 million base salary, but Cole is set to hit the free-agent market and may command a contract that will lead to the breakup of the Astros' dynamic duo.