I know we are still two months away from the end of the Major League Baseball season. Once the season does close it will be award season as many of the prestigious awards will be handed out. One of the first awards given out is the American League Cy Young Award. This award is typically given to the best American League pitcher. There have been years where there is a clear-cut favorite, and there have been years where there are multiple possible winners. The remainder of the season for these pitchers will be crucial as this may be one of the closest battles for the AL Cy Young Award.
Through MLB.com, I have determined that these are the four pitchers who baseball fans should keep an eye out for as one of these guys will win probably win the award. The pitchers I have determined are JA Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays, Zack Britton and Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles, and Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox.
When you think about the pitchers in the American League, you think of Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander. These are typically the ones that baseball fans think of because for the last few years; they have been the top pitchers in the American League. However, 2016 is a different year because these pitchers are not at the top of the American League.
If you look at JA Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays who as of this writing has a record of 17-3 with a 3.05 ERA and has 133 strikeouts. According to some projections from sites, he is being projected to finish the 2016 season at 20-5 with a 3.22 ERA. What should be noted about JA Happ is a very sub-par pitcher in his nine years in baseball. The last time Happ had numbers similar to the ones he has in 2016, you need to go back to the 2009 season when he was pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies as he went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA. The 17-3 record is a career high for him.
Another possible pitcher who could be winning the AL Cy Young is Boston Red Sox Pitcher Rick Porcello. He has a record of 17-3 with a 3.22 ERA and according to projections, he is projected to go 20-5 with a 3.34 ERA. Unlike Happ who was sub par for most of his career, Porcello is different. Throughout his short seven years in the majors, he has been decent. However, when he was on those Tigers teams from 2009 until 2015, he was the team’s 5th starter as you had Verlander and other pitchers on that staff. I feel the case with Rick Porcello is it depends on how Boston does for the remainder of the season. In all honesty, I feel that to be the case with any of these pitchers.
Due to how tight the competition is for that award, I feel that the deciding factor will be how the teams fare. Another pitcher who I can see make a case for the American League CY Young is Zack Britton, the closer for the Baltimore Orioles. I’m opposed to having a closer being mentioned for the CY Young award because they don’t typically pitch every game, and I feel the CY Young award should be for pitchers who pitch and are more effective towards a team winning or losing a game. However, Zack Britton is having a ridiculous year. His stats for the 2016 season are that he is 2-1 with a 0.54 ERA with 37 saves.
Right now if he keeps his ERA below 0.85, he would own the record for having the lowest ERA in baseball history. The reason why he needs to keep it under 0.85 is that that is the record which was held by Tim Keefe in 1880. Just think about that for a second, if you look at the pitchers who have played the game since Tim did and no one has gotten close to that ERA of 0.85. I don’t see Zack Britton winning it because you don’t see a closer win the CY Young award.
Finally, the fourth and a long shot to winning the CY Young is Chris Tillman, pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. Unlike the others who have the records that would make a case for them to win the award, it is not that easy for Tillman. He is 15-4 with a 3.46 ERA and has 126 strikeouts. For Tillman to win the AL CY Award, he is going to need to have an incredible end to the season. He needs to go perfectly for the remainder of the season, and he may have a shot.
Overall, the American League CY Young award will come down to either JA Happ or Rick Porcello. While Britton and Tillman are going to make it tough, I just don’t think they have the stats to get them the award. It will be an interesting road to the end of the season for these four pitchers. Who do you see winning the AL CY Young Award in 2016?