The race for the AL Cy Young Award has been just as exciting to witness as the NL Cy Young race. Houston Astros starter Justin Verlander won the prestigious award last year. Verlander’s outstanding pitching was a key factor in helping Houston regain their place as World Series champions. Perhaps another pitcher in this year’s running will be a crucial piece in helping their team come playoff time. The New York Yankees‘ Gerrit Cole and the Seattle Mariners’ Luis Castillo lead the way in the race for the award, but anything could happen in the last few weeks of this wild 2023 MLB season.
AL Cy Young Award Race: The Top Candidates
Despite the Yankees’ brutally disappointing season, one of the bright spots for the Bronx Bombers is the pitching of Gerrit Cole. With the news of rookie outfielder Jasson Dominguez tearing his UCL in his right elbow, the Yankees are getting one bad blow after the next. Fans and management will have their heads turned to next season. At least if Cole wins the AL Cy Young Award he gives New York hope for the future, especially in the rotation.
🚨 HISTORY 🚨
Gerrit Cole has become the first Yankees pitcher with 3⃣ 200-strikeout seasons‼️ pic.twitter.com/Y1hwVxdKb4
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) September 10, 2023
Through 30 starts, Cole has a record of 14-4. He leads the American League with 187 innings pitched and is ranked first with a 2.79 ERA. Cole also has a 1.027 WHIP, which not only leads the AL but MLB as a whole. His 204 strikeouts are third in the AL, sitting behind the Minnesota Twins‘ Pablo Lopez and the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Kevin Gausman. Even after being in the majors for eleven years, Cole is still looking for his first Cy Young. If he can be solid on the mound for the remainder of the season, that just might happen.
Around the same time last season, Seattle picked up the pace and started winning a ton of ball games. Their great play earned them their first playoff appearance since 2001. The Mariners have almost copied their playbook from last season. They’ve gone 24-12 since the beginning of August and show no signs of slowing down. Seattle’s incredible jump last season came largely after acquiring Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds. Now, in his first full season with the Mariners, Castillo aims to win the AL Cy Young Award.
Castillo has a 12-7 record through 29 starts. He ranks third in the AL in innings pitched, fourth in ERA, and second in WHIP behind Gerrit Cole. During game one of last year’s AL Wild Card series against the Blue Jays, Castillo made Mariners history. He gave up just six hits while striking out five batters in 7 1/3 innings in a 4-0 victory. That is the first 7+ inning shutout start in Mariners’ postseason history. Since joining Seattle, Castillo has a record of 15-9. While he will look to help the Mariners in the postseason, there’s no doubt he’s looking at that Cy Young Award also.
The past few weeks have been a dogfight for the Toronto Blue Jays. They’ve been desperately fighting to stay in contention for the postseason. Recently, Toronto has won six out of their last seven games and has moved back up to the second Wild Card spot. The race for the final two AL Wild Card spots comes down to the Jays, Mariners, and Texas Rangers. Blue Jays starting pitcher Kevin Gausman is looking to do whatever it takes to get his team back in the postseason.
Gausman leads the American League in strikeouts with 217. His strikeout rate for this season and his career is about five strikeouts a game. Back in 2021 when he was with the San Francisco Giants, he ranked fourth in the NL in strikeouts. This year, he has an 11-8 record through 28 starts and 167 innings pitched. Gausman has struck out 10 batters or more seven times this season. If he continues to make the best batters in the world whiff, Gausman could have his shot at the AL Cy Young Award.
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