Cleveland Indians’ Corey Kluber: Three Pitchers He Needs to Beat To Win Cy Young Award

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The Youngster: Sonny Gray

Oakland Athletics’ ace Sonny Gray is not someone to ignore. In fact, it would be more surprising if Gray did not win the Cy Young than if he did, although there’s still room for him to be snubbed if Kluber can pick up some wins. Gray has just a 21.6 strikeout rate, and while that is above average, he isn’t nearly as dominant as Kluber has been. Gray has also walked 6.4 percent of batters – again, better than league average, but not the numbers Kluber has posted.

What Gray has done is post a league-best 2.04 ERA, a league-best .98 WHIP, and a league-best 6.6 hits per nine innings. That’s a lot of bests, but will it be enough?

Check Out: Cleveland Indians: Pitcher’s Batting History

The Oakland Athletics’ right-hander has only pitched 167.1 innings, and his 141 punch outs are hardly on-par with the other top starters. He’s made a solid case for himself, but what Kluber lacks in wins, Gray may lack in durability. He missed a week earlier in the season after picking up a case of salmonella poisoning, and last week in Toronto, Gray missed another start due to back spasms. While he’s thrown three complete games, he hasn’t had the kind of perfect attendance that Kluber has.

Last season, Felix Hernandez was the only pitcher besides Kluber whose name made it into legitimate Cy Young conversations by the end of the season. Hernandez’s 2014 season may be a good correlation for why Gray isn’t guaranteed a win.

In 2014, when Kluber took home his first Cy Young, his 2.44 ERA was far behind Hernandez’s 2.14 ERA. Hernandez also has the best WHIP, at .92. However, Kluber had 21 more strikeouts and three more wins, so he walked away with the hardware.

Gray has a 12-5 record, so he won’t lose out in the win category, but his lack of strikeouts may be a major problem. The fact that he trails Kluber in innings-pitched is another red flag for those who may way to see Gray as the winner.

Next: Kluber's Cy Young Competition: The Former Winner