Most organizations are lucky to have one true ace, that every week is a staple in their rotation to give them a great to above average start. The Houston Astros however have had the luxury this season of being able to send out the two best pitchers in the American league on back to back nights. Thats not even mentioning how they traded for Zach Greinke at the deadline, who also potentially can be most teams ace or elite number 2. Nevertheless the numbers from both Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander have propelled the Astros to their third straight 100-win season, and the title as the best rotation in baseball. The duo has been must watch tv nearly every start, both putting up ridiculous strikeout numbers and breaking records as they unintentionally battle each other out for the AL Cy Young award. With one start each left on the season, the two have one grand statement game to leave their mark on the award voters before October. Today we are gonna dive into each pitchers case to win the award, and how similar their numbers actually are.
Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
In his second year in H-Town Gerrit Cole has produced an astronomical number of strikeouts at a historic rate. If the season ended today Cole will have the highest strikeout per 9 rate in a single season of all time, at a rate of 13.71 per nine innings. His filthy repertoire has led to an AL leading 2.52 ERA besting his teammate JV by a whopping .01. For more advanced stats people he is also the league leader in ERA+ with 184 and FIP with a 2.62. Although pitching wins aren’t a great stat to determine how great a pitcher actually is (cough deGrom), the Astros have been unbeatable when Cole takes the mound since May 27th going 15-0 in those 22 starts. This ability to win his team games is precisely seen by his fWAR, which is the best in all of baseball at 7.3 In just about every other major pitching stat he is either one or two, simply dominating the leaderboards. His stuff is flat out unfair, and that narrative keeps growing as the league keeps whiffing at his combo of pitches on a weekly basis. Since trading for him the Astros pitching staff has truly helped him blossom into one of the premier pitchers in the game, and there is a good chance he walks away with the hardware after his historic season.
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Justin Verlander needs no introduction at this point. A former MVP, Cy Young, and triple crown winner JV has been one of the best pitchers of this generation. Coming off a fantastic year in 2018, at age 36 it seems as if JV just continues to improve. Just like Cole if he’s not leading in a major pitching category he’s number two. His WHIP of 0.81 is good for the second-best single season record, trailing only the legend Pedro Martinez. Besides his incredible numbers from this year, JV has also helped his narrative by throwing his third career no-hitter against the Blue Jays on September 1st, and with just one more start to make is six strikeouts away from joining the exclusive 3,000 strikeout club. There’s no question that Verlander has been the leading force that has helped the Astros win 100+ games again, backed up by his MLB leading bWAR of 7.8. The one slander against JV has been the number of moonshots he’s surrendered this season, at 34 which is tied for third in the AL. Considering the rate of homers this year thanks to the juiced ball era the league has entered, it’s really not a big deal when looking at how low his ERA is. All in all, Verlander has mustered a fantastic case to retake his Cy Young award, but at the same time there is a possibility he finishes in second, two years in a row.
The Pick: Gerrit Cole
Honestly this is probably the highest race among all the awards given out. Both of these guys have such similar stats, dominating the league going 1-2 in nearly every major pitching stat. The reason I have to give the nod to Cole is simple. When you can break a major league single season record, and on top of that have the dominant numbers he has had I think the debate has been concluded. That’s not mentioning his 14k+ strikeout streak he had which is bizarre against major league hitters. This does not mean Verlander can’t win the award. He has superb numbers and for some reason the baseball writers love narratives, and the no-no being this month plus if he gets 3,000 career strikeouts may seal it for him. For me though when you ink your name in a record book that spans over 100 years and have almost identical numbers as the other guy I feel you should win the award. Narratives aside, Cole has been the most award worthy pitcher in the American league.
Published by Fran