With about a month left in the 2019 season, Lucas Giolito finds himself firmly in the American League Cy Young Award race. Who else is in the running for the award? Here is a breakdown of his competition and his place in the conversation:
Mike Minor & Lance Lynn
Texas Rangers LHP Mike Minor has been nothing short of surprising this season. Minor was a solid starter for the Atlanta Braves back from 2011-2014, but injuries have derailed his career. This season, however, he has a 3.17 ERA and 3.7 fWAR over 167.2 innings pitched.
Speaking of surprises from the Texas Rangers, RHP Lance Lynn leads all American League pitchers in fWAR (5.8). His Cy Young candidacy will likely suffer from a relatively high ERA (3.85). Both Lynn and Minor will probably not win the award, but should finish in the top-7 barring poor finishes to the season.
Cleveland Indians RHP Shane Bieber has been fantastic in 2019. He is striking out 11.0 batters per 9 innings while walking only 1.8 batters over 9 innings. With a 3.23 ERA, 4.4 fWAR, and a division race that figures to come down to the wire, Bieber is a viable dark horse pick to win the Cy Young award.
Last season, then Houston Astros RHP Charlie Morton did not finish in the top-10 in Cy Young voting despite clearly being one of the best pitchers in the sport. Whether such an oversight will repeat is unknown, but Morton could finish anywhere from 1st to 6th in this year’s voting. Now with the Tampa Bay Rays, he is just as good, if not better, than he was in 2018. Morton leads the league with just 0.7 home runs allowed per 9 innings and features a 3.11 ERA, 2.80 FIP, and 5.2 fWAR.
Gerrit Cole & Justin Verlander
Houston Astros aces Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are having really strange seasons. They are elite at generating strikeouts, avoiding walks, and limiting hits. Yet, they have combined to allow 57 home runs. Either way, they have undoubtedly been two of the best pitchers in the league. Cole has a 2.75 ERA and 5.0 fWAR, while Verlander has a 2.77 ERA and a 4.4 fWAR. It is easy to see either of these starters taking home the Cy Young award this season, but it is difficult to definitively say which of the two has been better. The next month of games may help clear some help clarify things.
Chicago White Sox RHP Lucas Giolito‘s place among these arms is hard to pinpoint. He is 4th in fWAR behind Lynn, Morton, and Cole. If you looked at the pitchers’ peripherals and hid their names, Giolito would undoubtedly fit in. However, the gap between these pitchers is so slim that it is almost impossible to differentiate between them.
The last month of the season will hopefully simplify the debate, but these are the names to watch in the Cy Young race. With a strong finish, any of these pitchers could win, but Cole or Verlander appear to be frontrunners. Shane Bieber could win with a big September, and even Giolito may find himself towards the top of the list if he excels in his final few starts. While there is a lot of room for change, it would not be a Cy Young discussion piece without a ranking, so here is what I predict by the end of the season:
Feel free to let me know where you disagree and where you expect Giolito to finish!
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