Boston Red Sox’s own Rick Porcello may win AL Cy Young Award, even after last night’s masterpiece of a Game 4 by Cleveland Indians ace pitcher Corey Kluber.
When the 2016 regular season came to an end, many people believed that the American League Cy Young Award was Porcello’s to lose. The award will be unveiled live on MLB Network on November 16th, after the World Series is over. The award, both for the American and National Leagues, is voted on by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, with the vote supposedly happening “prior to the beginning of the postseason,” according to MLB.com.
If ESPN.com and their Cy Young predictor are accurate, Porcello should have the title won, even with one name in particular close behind. Running second, Kluber looks more and more like a first place ballot winner, especially after last night’s Game 4 win against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Kluber went six innings in a hostile environment swarming around him in Wrigley Field, allowing only five hits, one earned run, and one walk while striking out six batters. The 30-year-old righty is 4-1 in this postseason, posting a 0.89 ERA and 35 strikeouts in five starts.
The problem for Kluber and Cleveland is that the voting was already supposed to have already happened.
Both men started at least 32 games in the regular season, Porcello earning one extra start over Kluber. However, even with Porcello throwing an extra eight innings, Kluber had 38 more strikeouts, gave up three less runs, and beat Porcello’s 3.15 ERA by posting his own 3.14 ERA.
Even though Porcello earned more wins, recording a 22-4 record to Kluber’s 18-9, Kluber’s starts also looked more impressive. On top of two shutouts, Kluber’s opposing batting average was .216, impressive compared to Porcello’s .230. The contrast of percentages project why Kluber gave up 23 less hits than Porcello, even though Kluber pitched less innings.
One could make the case that Porcello’s walk total was less than Kluber’s, making walks to strikeouts favor Porcello, 17% for Porcello to Kluber’s 25% ratio.
However, the scoring ratio for the two teams puts the matter to rest. The Red Sox were, by far, the best offense in the majors, according to ESPN.com, scoring 878 runs in the regular season. Cleveland scored 101 less runs than the Red Sox, putting them at a respectable fifth place. Porcello was the pitcher with the best run support in the majors, according to Fox Sports, having 7.6 runs scored each time he took the mound for the Red Sox. Kluber had to help himself win games, even with Cleveland’s decent 5.8 runs per start.
Porcello does have the advantage that people still consider wins a big factor in how a pitcher is evaluated. He went on that mound and earned more victories and less losses than Kluber, which could very well give Porcello the Cy Young Award this year. Despite that fact, maybe Kluber deserves to win the award, for the second time in three years, over Porcello.
If the regular season didn’t convince some people, consider this: the last time Porcello took the mound was in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against Kluber’s team, who knocked him around for five runs on six hits, including three home runs, in only 4.1 innings of work.
Kluber faced the Red Sox juggernaut offense in Game 2, the offense that supported their starting pitchers all season. Kluber held those hot bats to only three measly hits and three walks, while striking out seven Red Sox batters over seven innings of shutout baseball for the victory.
Porcello did have a comeback season from the debacle of 2015, which may play into his favor for the Cy Young votes. It just seems that, if it wasn’t for the voting process itself, the answer to who was the best American League pitcher of 2016 was best defined during this postseason.
Red Sox Nation may not want to hear it; however, for much of the regular season numbers, Kluber looks to be the better choice. It’s just that the playoffs have made the choice that much more clear. The question shouldn’t be if Porcello was better than Kluber this season as much as it should be whether Kluber was better than every starting pitcher from both major leagues.