Earlier we looked at two contenders for the American League Cy Young Award. Today, I will handle the remaining candidates, as well as looking at where our favorite pitcher, Mike Mussina, falls.
The longtime Blue Jays ace is an astounding workhorse. He’s thrown an austounding seven complete games this season, including four in a row at one point. That leads the American League by a significant margin. He also leads the league with 182 innings pitched and is second with 155 strikeouts. His 5.14 K/BB ratio ranks behind only Lee, and he’s also second in the league in WHIP and third in ERA.
So what’s holding him back? His won-loss record. Voters often don’t look past that when going after a player unless he’s got significant advantages elsewhere. Halladay has that edge in complete games and innings pitched, but his ERA number is worse. Halladay dropped to 13-9 this year with a loss today, and, unless he gets more run support, it’s unlikely he’ll have a record close enough to Lee’s to merit consideration.
One of the twelve or so pitchers the Angels have up for the award, the young Saunders sports a 14-5 record to go along with a 3.03 ERA. In any normal year, he may be a front runner. But, that ERA ranks behind Lee and Halladay, and his 70 strikeouts his significantly behind both of those players. While he’s pitching very well, he doesn’t stand out in anything.
Mariano Rivera, Joakim Soria, Joe Nathan
Three closers who are all having better seasons than K-Rod. However, none of the closers has really distinguished himself. Rivera has a perfect save record, but has lost four games in which he’s appeared. Frankly, he’s had better seasons, and closers usually only win the award when there’s not an impressive starting pitcher. Nathan and Soria’s numbers are better than Rivera’s, but the buzz on them has been so miniscule, it’s hard to imagine them taking home any votes.
Nice W-L record (13-5) and third in strikeouts, but with a 3.45 ERA, he’s nowhere near the top. Unlikely to get many votes unless the ERA drops as he’ll likely be one of many pitchers with 17-19 wins, but will pale to them in ERA comparisons
Finally, we get to the Moose. There’s been some buzz surrounding his season, and with good reason. He’s tied with Lee with 15 wins and his ERA is currently 9th in the league. He’s also got the lowest walk rate in the majors and like Lee, he’s basically carried his team on his shoulders this season.
Going against him is his relatively low strikeout total (96) and innings total (140) and the fact that he doesn’t have–and is unlikely to get–a complete game this season. While his K rate has improved and his ERA dropped with each passing month, it’s unlikely it will get to the point where he’s among the Top three or five pitchers.
Sadly, unless Mussina wins his final 8-9 starts to finish 24-7, it’s unlikely his secondary numbers with come close enough to Lee’s or Halladay’s to merit consideration. Frankly, we believe that it’s Lee’s award to lose, with Halladay close behind. Mussina’s in the next group with Saunders, Santana, and the many closers.
*Note: Barring unforseen circumstances, the following players who are at or near the top of the league in some categories have been ignored for the following reasons:
Justin Duchscherer (League leader in ERA, WHIP, H/9 IP) 10-7 record, 84 K’s
A.J. Burnett (Tied for 2nd in wins, leader in strikeouts) 4.62 ERA
Dice-K (12-2 record, 2nd best winning percentage) Missed a few starts, likely to cost him votes, may not throw enough innings to qualify for an ERA title.