Chris Sale and Corey Kluber will give voters fits when it comes time to submit for the AL Cy Young winner. Neither pitcher has blinked this season. Is there any legitimate way to choose one over the other?
Boston Red Sox’ ace Chris Sale and Cleveland Indians’ ace Corey Kluber have been nothing short of phenomenal this season. Each has been so dominant shutting down all fellow American League pitchers from Cy Young consideration. It’s been a two-man race for the bulk of the season, but which of the two will take the singular honor?
Chris Sale has the benefit of a completely healthy season (knock on wood), while Corey Kluber did experience one DL stint, though Kluber’s brief absence will have little to no influence on the Cy Young result.
Each is an elite innings eater with Sale averaging 6.75 innings pitched per start and Kluber averaging 7.00. Sale will easily surpass the coveted 200-inning mark. Kluber, slighted by injury, is not assured of reaching that mark.
Both pitchers will also benefit from a playoff berth. The Red Sox will likely conquer the AL East. Cleveland is sprinting to a division title having won their last 13 games. A tribute to each hurler’s dominance, and to the help from their teammates, Sale has a 15-7 record, and Kluber has a 14-4 record.
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As you’d imagine, Sale and Kluber are atop the American League in ERA, opponent’s batting average, and WHIP. Kluber actually edges Sale in each of the three categories. Kluber is the only American League pitcher with a sub-.200 opponent’s batting average.
Unfortunately, competition forces two spectacular seasons to be nit picked, as only one pitcher can be recognized as the best in his respected league. You have to take a magnifying glass to find even a smudge on each pitcher’s season totals.
It’s difficult to find one for Corey Kluber, who had a rocky beginning to the 2017 campaign, posting a 5.07 ERA through May 2nd. Since then, he has forfeited more than three runs in only one start, and more than two runs in only four starts. He has been the model of consistency beyond the opening month. Kluber gives the Cleveland Indians that which so many major league teams envy–the guarantee of a dominant outing every five days.
Reverting back to Chris Sale, the first year Bostonian has exceeded the expectations of even the most overconfident Red Sox fans. Sale benefits from the “wow” factor. Just as the home run is the most fascinating offensive occurrence, the strikeout is the most fascinating pitching occurrence.
Sale has enthralled the masses with his major league leading 270 strikeouts. He is averaging an unheard of 12.8 strikeouts per game. He has also notched double-digit strikeouts in 17 of his 28 starts this season. If you took a poll on the opinions of the many hitters who have stepped to the plate against Sale this season, I think we may have a clear Cy Young winner.
That being said, the vote is up to the writers. Good luck solving this puzzle.
If there is one knock on Sale it would be his proneness to the blow up start. Ironically enough, Corey Kluber’s squad is responsible for most of Sale’s troubles this year. Cleveland has tagged Sale for 14 runs over eight innings in two starts. The Indians, along with the Yankees have caused Chris Sale’s ERA to rise from 2.37 to 2.85 over the last month.
Nevertheless, Sale has been the front-runner all season long. However, Kluber has erupted over the last two months. It will certainly be a race to the very end. The AL Cy Young award may come down to the old cliché–it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. If that is the case, it’s Corey Kluber by a nose, as of September 6th, 2017.