clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

AL Cy Young race: Jose Quintana loses ground

New, comments

Chris Sale maintains position, but Rick Porcello might make it irrelevant

Since the last time we checked the American League Cy Young leaderboard, Chris Sale and Justin Verlander squared off twice in Tigers-White Sox matchups.

Their results accurately reflected the award race as a whole — good-to-great pitching that offered little in the way of meaningful separation. Verlander held the edge in combined game scores by a couple points, but Sale pitched an inning longer each time. Neither pitcher received a decision.

As a result, they remain tied at the hip in their ascent up the leaderboard. Unfortunately for the White Sox, their ascent was partially aided by Jose Quintana, who didn’t throw a quality start in either of his two outings since we last looked. He’s still posting a great season, but he blends into the crowd far more easily when he doesn’t have a top-three ERA.

Here’s the just-about-fortnightly updated leaderboard. I’ve removed Chris Tillman (missed starts from injury) and Steven Wright (injury, reduced effectiveness after), while adding David Price. I don’t think Price has a realistic shot at the Cy Young, but he leads the league in innings and fills up the leaderboard in other areas, so he provides additional context for the sturdier cases.

W-L ERA G IP H R ER BB K FIP bWAR
Corey Kluber 15-9 3.16 28 190.2 150 73 67 49 198 3.19 5.8
Justin Verlander 14-7 3.28 29 195.0 149 75 71 47 209 3.57 5.1
Cole Hamels 14-5 3.25 28 174.2 160 70 63 68 175 4.02 5.0
Chris Sale 15-7 3.07 27 193.2 154 68 66 42 193 3.41 5.0
Michael Fulmer 10-6 2.77 22 136.2 112 45 42 35 112 3.79 4.9
Masahiro Tanaka
12-4 3.11 28 179.1 163 69 62 31 150 3.26 4.7
Jose Quintana 11-10 3.13 28 184.0 166 66 64 41 165 3.42 4.5
Rick Porcello 19-3 3.23 28 186.2 163 74 67 28 154 3.52 4.2
Aaron Sanchez 13-2 2.92 26 169.1 145 60 55 51 138 3.49 4.1
Danny Duffy
11-2 3.13 38*
155.1
137
55
54
32
167
3.43 3.9
J.A. Happ
17-4 3.34 27
164.1
145
62
61
49
144
3.95 3.4
David Price
15-8 3.87 30
197.2
194
89
85
44
201
3.34 3.2

A handful of notes:

*Sale has thrown at least eight innings in four consecutive starts. He’s the only pitcher to string together a streak that long this season, and it puts him within one start’s reach of league-leader Price despite taking the mound three fewer times (damn you, throwback jerseys).

*Kluber has been the favorite in my mind, and the Baseball-Reference.com WAR leaderboard finally reflects that. However, he did pick up his first loss in two months on Tuesday against Houston, which also snapped a streak of 10 consecutive quality starts.

*Regarding Price, I’m still getting a handle on Baseball Prospectus’ revamped win valuation, but it has loved Price and Chris Archer most of the season despite their slow starts. Its order:

  1. Kluber, 6.04
  2. Sale, 5.88
  3. Archer, 5.63
  4. Price, 5.55
  5. Verlander, 4.93

But all this is ignoring the elephant in the room.

*Porcello can’t be overlooked anymore, because his other starts are starting to line up with his record. He wasn’t all that compelling when 10-2 with a 3.82 ERA, but he’s 9-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his 11 starts since, making him much more than a run-support mirage. If he wins 20something games with a top-five workload and an ERA a few tenths off the lead, that will probably be enough to win it. The Neyer/James Cy Young predictor has him in first, and it usually gets this right (Sale is fifth there).

*With Porcello now leading the league in wins, Happ loses his best asset. Likewise, three consecutive pedestrian starts from Duffy stalls his momentum, as his case hinged on a league-best ERA. Fulmer still is a few innings short of qualifying, and now that he’s 60 innings behind the league lead, his otherwise-excellent body of work probably isn’t substantial enough to hang.