Yesterday five of the American League's top Cy Young candidates were on display. As we approach the final two months of the regular season, each start takes on more and more importance. So who's the favorite at this point?
C.J. Wilson and the Texas Rangers took on Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels in the rubber game of a crucial three-game set. Both aces were flawless: Weaver pitched seven shutout innings, Wilson tossed a complete game. The lone run came in the second inning when outfielder Endy Chavez - known for his defensive ability - dropped a Mike Trout fly ball, allowing second baseman Howie Kendrick to score. Weaver lowered his ML-best ERA to 1.81.
Over 2,000 miles away, the Tampa Bay Rays were able to salvage a split of a four-game series with the Yankees. C.C. Sabathia took on James Shields in what was a matchup of two of the game's premier hurlers. Sabathia went the distance, allowing two runs on five hits. Shields was equally brilliant, his only blunder a Robinson Cano rbi double in the eighth inning.
We went west, then east. Now we're talking central. The Tigers sent ace Justin Verlander to the hill as they attempted to take first place in the AL Central. With his blistering fastball and devastating off speed stuff, Verlander threw eight innings of one-run ball.
At this point, Jered Weaver has to be considered the front runner. The LA ace is 13-4 with a 1.81 ERA. Although his numbers are impressive, what furthers Weaver's case is the fact that he plays for a team ranked 24th in the league in total runs scored.
Doesn't this situation seem all too familiar? Last season, Felix Hernandez won the coveted award in the American League. The Mariners scored a paltry 513 runs all season, good for last in the league. The Angels may not be the Seattle Mariners - they are actually capable of outscoring the Los Angeles Galaxy - but they are no offensive juggernaut.
As the Angels attempt to dethrone the Rangers in the AL West down the stretch, much of the burden will fall on Weaver's shoulders. If he is truly a Cy Young-worthy, LA will be in the race until the season's final days. The halos still have ten games against the defending American League champions before the end of the regular season.
Last night was impressive: the 2x All Star beat one of the league's best offenses with virtually no run support. But Jered Weaver will need more of these types of performances if he wants to become the second straight Cy Young Award winner from the AL West.