There was very little doubt that a Houston Astros right-hander would bring home the American League Cy Young Award. The only question was which one. For the second time in his near certain Hall of Fame career, the honor goes to Justin Verlander after a vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
In the NL, Jacob deGrom made history by becoming just the 11th pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Youngs.
Verlander edged out teammate Gerrit Cole by 12 points. It’s the first time teammates have received all 30 first and second-place votes. Verlander was named first on 17 ballots. Cole on 13. Their former teammate, Charlie Morton, finished third. Morton now pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Verlander is the fourth Astros pitcher to win the award, joining Mike Scott (1986), Roger Clemens (2004) and Dallas Keuchel (2015). Verlander previously won the award in 2011 as a member of the Detroit Tigers. He's finished top three in the Cy Young voting on four other occasions, including runner up finishes in 2012, 2016 and 2018.
Performance-wise, not a lot separated Verlander and Cole from one another. Verlander remained dominant and durable in his age-36 season, leading MLB with 223 innings pitched and finishing with exactly 300 strikeouts. That mark was a new career-high for the 15-year veteran.
Verlander also pitched his third career no-hitter, won 21 games, posted a 2.58 ERA and for the second straight season posted the best WHIP in MLB at 0.803. That is despite allowing a career-high 36 home runs.
Cole, 29, led the league with a 2.50 ERA while setting a franchise record with 326 strikeouts. Despite missing one start due to injury, Cole enjoyed a stronger finish to the season. Over his final 22 starts, Cole was 16-0 with 226 strikeouts over 146 2/3 innings. During that stretch, Cole joined Hall of Famer Martinez as the only pitchers to post at least 14 strikeouts in three consecutive starts.
Both résumés are impressive. As is the résumé of Charlie Morton. The 35-year-old right-hander joined the Tampa Bay Rays in free agency and filled the role of ace after 2018 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell missed time with injuries. Morton won 16 games, posted a 3.05 ERA and was vital in helping the Rays clinch a wild-card spot.
The debate between Verlander and Cole is one that will likely continue far beyond Wednesday's announcement. But there was no clear wrong choice on the matter.
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