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Chris Sale and Jose Quintana hold serve in congested Cy Young race

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American League leaderboard gets even more crowded than it was two weeks ago

David Banks/Getty Images

The most complicated Cy Young race that I can remember didn’t get any easier over the weekend.

Chris Sale and Jose Quintana hit on the key three points during the Oakland series, as both starters 1) picked up a win and 2) lowered their ERAs while 3) pitching deep into the game.

But the two best reasons to watch the White Sox weren’t alone in reinforcing their cases. From Sunday — and the AL Central -- alone:

  • Danny Duffy: Held the Twins to one run over 6⅔ innings to improve to 11-1 with a league-leading 2.66 ERA.
  • Corey Kluber: He didn’t get the win, but he limited the Blue Jays to two runs over 6⅔ innings in a 3-2 Cleveland victory.
  • Justin Verlander: Picked up his 13th win after throwing six innings of one-run ball against Boston.

One day earlier, Cole Hamels improved to 13-4 with a 2.80 ERA after disposing of the Rays, and Masahiro Tanaka picked up his 10th win with 7⅔ shutout innings against the Angels.

The only guys who saw their cases damaged over the weekend were Chris Tillman (six runs on six hits and five walks over two innings on Saturday) and Aaron Sanchez, whom the Blue Jays optioned to the minors to limit his innings.

The sheer amount of similar starters has created the kind of vacuum an excellent relief pitcher can occupy, which is why Zach Britton, he of the 0.54 ERA and 37 saves in 37 opportunities, is getting some hype. As relief seasons go, it's worthy of some votes, but then I think about how good Sale might be if he only had to throw an inning at a time.

Let’s look at the big board since we rolled it out a fortnight ago. I've added Duffy, Tanaka and Rick Porcello, while removing Danny Salazar.

W-L ERA G IP H R ER BB K FIP bWAR
Cole Hamels 12-3 2.89 23 160.2 127 54 47 56 144 3.99 5.2
Jose Quintana 10-9 2.84 25 164.2 146 53 52 38 142 3.43 4.9
Corey Kluber 13-8 3.13 25 169.2 135 65 59 42 171 3.08 4.8
Michael Fulmer 10-4 2.58 20 125.2 100 39 36 33 104 3.67 4.7
Chris Sale 15-6 3.15 24 168.2 135 61 59 38 165 3.43 4.3
Danny Duffy
11-1 2.66 35*
138.2
111
41
41
29
147
3.21 4.3
Justin Verlander 13-7 3.38 26 173.1 134 69 65 45 181 3.61 4.2
Chris Tillman 15-5 3.76 26 153 136 64 64 58 126 4.27 4.0
Rick Porcello 17-3 3.22 25 165 144 66 59 28 137 3.69 3.8
Masahiro Tanaka
10-4 3.24 25 161 146 65 58 27 137 3.28 3.7
Aaron Sanchez 12-2 2.99 24 156.1 135 56 52 46 132 3.33 3.5
J.A. Happ
17-3 3.05 24
150.1
127
52
51
44
133
3.89 3.5
Steven Wright 13-5 3.01 22 146.2 124 65 49 51 123 3.37 2.5

A few notes:

*Hamels was tied with Fulmer in bWAR the last time we looked.

*Duffy has appeared in 35 games, but he's only made 19 starts. Nevertheless, it's impressive that he leads the league in ERA without an unearned run. There's a great story in the Kansas City Star about how he busted through a plateau in his career with a new breaking ball.

*Wright might fall off this list the next time we look at it, as he hasn't pitched since the first week of August due to shoulder bursitis. That one August start was a shutout, though.

*Happ, over his last 34 starts: 24-4 with a 2.58 ERA over 209⅓ innings.