We’re obviously not going to see a repeat Cy Young winner in the American League this year. Rays left-hander Blake Snell took home the award a season ago, but his output has fallen off somewhat since 2018, and he just returned from a several-week absence anyway. There’s another Ray, right-hander Charlie Morton, who may have a case to rack up some votes this season, but it looks as if the winner will be one of his ex-Astros teammates.
- ERA – Verlander: 2.50 (first in the AL); Cole: 2.62 (second)
- Innings: Verlander: 212 (first); Cole: 192 1/3 (fifth)
- Strikeouts per nine: Cole: 13.66 (first); Verlander: 12.01 (second)
- K/BB ratio: Verlander: 7.08 (first); Cole: 6.49 (second)
- Wins – Verlander: 19 (first); Cole: 17 (second)
- bWAR – Verlander: 7.8 (second); Cole: 6.0 (fourth)
- fWAR – Cole: 6.5 (first); Verlander: 6.1 (tied for second)
Some of those figures have already changed tonight, as Cole is in the midst of a lights-out showing against the Rangers. As of this writing, the 29-year-old has fired six shutout innings of two-hit ball with eight strikeouts and zero walks. Cole now has exactly 300 punchouts on the season, putting him in fairly exclusive company.
Based on Cole’s enormous K total and the rest of the statistics above, it would be tough to make a case against him or Verlander. However, two other Texas-based starters – Mike Minor and Lance Lynn – have also enjoyed elite seasons. Minor ranks first in the league in pitcher bWAR, in fact, with Lynn not far behind. Despite that, the two Rangers are clearly facing long odds if they’re going to earn Cy Young honors over either of the Astros. Likewise, although Morton, Indians starter Shane Bieber and even Athletics closer Liam Hendriks have arguably placed themselves in the race with their marvelous performances, it’s improbable anyone from that trio will come out on top.
A first-time Cy Young win for Cole in 2019 would come at an especially opportune time for him, as he’s under two months from reaching free agency. Cole figures to rake in the largest contract on the open market then – perhaps a deal in excess of $200MM – and it wouldn’t exactly harm his bargaining power to collect the game’s most prestigious honor for a pitcher in the meantime. The 36-year-old Verlander has surprisingly won the Cy Young just once in what should be a Hall of Fame career. The former Tiger also grabbed the AL MVP that season (2011), and though it was eight years ago, Verlander hasn’t slowed down to any noticeable degree since.
Cole, Verlander and the rest only have a couple weeks left to make their Cy Young arguments on the mound. As things stand, which pitcher do you think is in the lead?
(Poll link for app users)