Major League Baseball’s regular season is coming to a close and both the Cleveland Indians (96-57) and Boston Red Sox (88-64) are on their way to the postseason thanks in part to their starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Chris Sale.
Both Kluber and Sale have had stellar seasons and the hunt for the American League Cy Young Award is essentially a two-man race between the aces – but only one can walk away with the award.
Despite Sale having a rocky September, it can be argued he put himself back in the race when he struck out 13 batters against the Orioles on Sept. 20 – racking up his 300 strikeout of the season – an accomplishment that hasn’t been reached in Red Sox history since 1999 when Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez did it.
Kluber started the season going 3-1 in April and made one start in May before he landed on the disabled list with lower back problems. The DL stint would last the entire month and when he returned, it was as if he was a brand new pitcher.
Since his return, Kluber has gone 17-2 through 21 starts with a 1.69 ERA. He has 211 strikeouts with 21 walks in 154.1 innings of work. Before the righty went on the disabled list, he was 4-2 with a 5.09 ERA – so it’s clear whatever back issues he was dealing with are long gone.
If he didn’t miss his three starts in May, Kluber would easily be the front-runner for the AL Cy Young – but Sale has been making a strong case for him to take home the hardware – it just may not be enough to surpass Kluber for the award.
Both pitchers have 17 wins on the season with Sale having three more losses (7) than Kluber (4). Sale has pitched in 209.1 innings with a 2.75 ERA, walked 41 batters and has an impressive and history-making 300 strikeouts.
Kluber leads Sale in ERA, record and has five complete games with three shutouts. He doesn’t have as many innings pitched or as many strikeouts as Sale, but it is impossible to look past just how dominant Kluber has been since returning from the DL.
The Cleveland ace won the Cy Young in 2014 thanks in part to his second half of the season and his second half of 2017 has been better than his winning year.
Sale has never won a Cy Young in his career, only placing fifth in 2013 when he finished the season with the Chicago White Sox – going 11-14 with a 3.07 ERA with four complete games and 226 strikeouts.
Although his case isn’t as strong as it was just a few weeks ago, Sale is still having a career season – but it won’t be enough for him to take home the award at the end of it.
Despite the 300 strikeouts, Kluber has just been too dominant in the second half of the season for it to be ignored – 11-2 through 19 starts with 194 strikeouts over 138.1 innings pitched.
Over roughly the same span of time, Sale is 10-5 in 18 starts with 169 strikeouts through 116.2 innings pitched.
Kluber has essentially been unhittable since returning from the disabled list and leads Sale in basically every category with the exception of strikeouts.
Though Kluber looks as if he is the favorite for the Cy Young, Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello won it last year without getting the highest amount of first place votes – which went to Detroit Tigers starting pitcher, Justin Verlander.
A Cy Young would cap off what is already an incredible season Sale and would mean Boston pitchers won it in two-consecutive years – but with everything Kluber has accomplished – all with missing a month – is something that will be hard to overlook when it is time to vote for who the award will go to.