2015 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2015 Fantasy Baseball: AL Cy Young Preview

Just like with the National League, we have a very competitive Cy Young race at the top of the list. We struggled to come up with a fourth name for the National League and we will have the same problem with the American League. The top three names all have a chance at this point in the discussion, but there is an obvious front runner just like in the National League.

Sonny Gray— Oakland Athletics

Key Stats: 13-7, 193.2 INN, 2.28 ERA, 1.002 WHIP, 156 K

The fact that Sonny Gray is even a candidate demonstrates the lengths that pitching analysis has come in the past decade or two. Twenty years ago, he would have been laughed out of the room. How could a mere 15 game winner (assuming he wins two of his last four starts) ever claim to be a Cy Young award winner? Well, he has been jostling with Dallas Keuchel for the ERA lead all season and managed to handcuff those Astros in his last start. You can’t put the season’s struggles on him.

What does he need to do to win?

He has an uphill battle considering he is fourth among the top four candidates in wins and also trails them all in strikeouts. Additionally, his 3.26 FIP also indicates that he has been good, but not quite as good as the other three guys. That being said, his 6.5 WAR indicates that he should be in the final group. He will just need a little help to win the award.

Where does he really rank?

Depending on his last four starts, Gray will rank second or third in the Cy Young award voting. As I said in the last article, how you finish matters and when those games mean more it also matters more. Both Dallas Keuchel and David Price are pitching in pennant races. When they continue to pitch well it matters more. I know is shouldn’t matter whether you are pitching in a pennant race or just playing out the string. It isn’t Gray’s fault that his team sucks. However, he would be a close third in my book.

Felix Hernandez— Seattle Mariners

Key Stats: 17-8, 183.0 INN, 3.49 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 175 K

I know what you’re thinking. How does someone with a 3.49 ERA in this day and age break into the final four? Simply put, not all ERAs are created equal. Felix Hernandez has four starts where he went a combined 14 innings and surrendered 32 earned runs. His ERA in all of his other starts is a robust 2.07. Sure, those games count and we could go through that exercise with nearly every pitcher, but in his case he seems to have definitely gone feast or famine. A simple typical quality start in those games and he’d be right there.

What does he need to do to win?

He can’t. There isn’t anyone else in the league that can compare with the top three guys. Like Hernandez, there are a number of guys that are in the same boat. They have been good for most of the season, but may have had a few starts here and there where they were human. Hernandez has one Cy Young award, but he’s been a runner up twice and has two other top ten finishes. He should have another top ten finish this season if there is any justice.

Where does he really rank?

There might be a couple of pitchers on the Indians that could claim to be better than Felix Hernandez this season. Pitchers like Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels could also be there if they had pitched the entire season in the American League. I would vote him fourth because he has been the fourth best pitcher in the league most of the season. The fact that he still has a mathematical chance to win twenty games is evidence enough.

Dallas Keuchel— Houston Astros

Key Stats: 17-7, 206.2 INN, 2.22 ERA, 0.997 WHIP, 192 K

Keuchel has 40 consecutive starts with six or more innings pitched. Obviously, he leads the league in ERA, WHIP, and innings pitched. He’s tied for the league lead in victories. He’s fifth in the league in strikeouts, but otherwise he would win the pitcher triple crown. The peculiarity about Keuchel is that he is 13-0 with a 1.49 ERA at home and a 4-7 record and 3.13 ERA on the road. Considering that the Astros will spend most of the rest of the season on the road, that could impact his candidacy.

What does he need to do?

Keuchel is the leader in the clubhouse. His 7.0 WAR narrowly edges both Sonny Gray and David Price. All he needs to do is pitch in his last four starts like he has pitched all season. Considering that the Astros are involved in their first playoff run in nearly a decade, how they finish there will likely have a lot to do with whether he gets the award or not.

Where does he really rank?

I have a personal stake in this one as a lifelong Astros fan. So, if I say he’s been the best pitcher in the league then that comes with a little bit of bias attached. However, if you juxtapose his season with Felix Hernandez you see his value. Hernandez has been great except for those four starts. Keuchel has just been great. When he isn’t at his best, he finds a way to gut it through. In his last start, he threw a lot of pitches early and committed a key error. He made it through giving up three unearned runs in six innings. It was far from brilliant, but it wasn’t a disaster either. He’s the best pitcher in the league in my book.

David Price— Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays

Key Stats: 15-5, 201.1 INN, 2.46 ERA, 1.083 WHIP, 203 K

We’ve seen it here and we’ve seen it before. The value attached to the games you play matter. Price is 6-1 with a 2.28 ERA as a Blue Jay. The Blue Jays have gone from being a wild card contender to possibly having the best record in all of the American League. Certainly Price has a lot to do with that. Based on the numbers, Price is the third best pitcher in the American League overall. His 5.9 WAR trails Keuchel and Gray by a significant margin, but pitching well in a high profile pennant race may be enough to get him some votes.

What does he need to do to win?

He probably needs Keuchel and Gray to come back to the pack a little and that is certainly possible. However, a strong finish in his last four starts may be enough to get him over the top. His finish with the Blue Jays is reminiscent of Randy Johnson’s finish with the Astros in 1998. The difference is that he was better than Johnson at his first stop and his second stop is still in the American League. A 10-1 finish with the Blue Jays would go a long way in getting him the support he needs.

Where does he really rank?

My heart and my head are having a huge argument on this one. My head tells me that Sonny Gray has been the better pitcher for the entire season and he hasn’t done anything lately to make me think otherwise. Gray deserves to finish second on the merits. My heart tells me that David Price has been a huge part of the Blue Jays’ resurgence this season. They are the hottest team in baseball and may very well be the favorite to win the World Series. My heart tells me that matters. My heart and head will likely duke it out over the last four starts.

Previous post

Daily Fantasy Golf Strategy: BMW Championship

Next post

2015 Fantasy Football: Week 2 Defense Streamers

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.