|Relievers Chapman, Kimbrel figure in NL Cy Young Race||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on September 23, 2012
However, this season, closers Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds and Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves must be considered for the NL Cy Yaaoung award based on their dominant seasons.
The Cy Young award was founded in 1956 with just one recipient from both leagues. The current format of each league having a Cy Young winner was adopted in 1967.
Since that time, only five relievers in the NL have won the award: Mike Marshall, 1974, Los Angeles Dodgers, 15-12, 21 saves, 2.42 ERA, 143 Ks; Bruce Sutter, 1979, Chicago Cubs, 6-6, 37 saves, 2.22 ERA, 110 Ks; Steve Bedrosian, 1987, Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3, 40 saves, 2.83 ERA, 74 Ks; Mike Davis, 1989, San Diego Padres, 4-3, 44 saves, 1.85 ERA, 92 Ks; and Eric Gagne, 2003, Dodgers, 2-3, 55 saves, 1.20 ERA, 137 Ks.
Maybe the crop of starting pitchers wasn’t as talented during those seasons, but based on the numbers, each of these relievers deserved his award. There have likely been other relievers warranting Cy Young consideration but were cast aside in favor of starters.
Looking at the two closers this year, it can almost be a Cy Young split.
Chapman wasn’t even slated to be the Reds closer this season. Cincinnati signed Ryan Madson to close, but he got hurt at the end of spring training. Lefty Sean Marshall was tabbed as the team’s closer early on, but Chapman assumed the role in mid-May after showing his dominance.
Aroldis Chapman airs one out.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
Chapman has pitched 67 2/3 innings this year and has struck out 119 batters, equating to a little under two batters per inning, which is unheard of. He’s 5-5 with a 1.60 ERA, 35 saves and a 0.80 WHIP. Opposing batters are hitting just .143 against him, and he’s only surrendered 12 earned runs and 20 walks.
Chapman, who consistently hits 100-plus mph on the radar gun with his fastball, is a major reason why the Reds have pulled away in the NL Central, leading the St. Louis Cardinals by 11 games with three weeks to play.
Kimbrel meanwhile has been just as dominant as Chapman. His fastball and curveball have been ranked among the best individual pitches in the game, and it has shown this season.
His numbers are slightly skewed, since the Braves chose to limit his workload the past month in order to have him fresh for the stretch run in September. The Braves are looking to preserve their position as the No. 1 wild card team in NL.
Kimbrel is 2-1 with a 1.12 ERA in 56 1/3 innings. He’s saved 37 games, has 105 strikeouts and has a 0.67 WHIP. Most impressive, he’s only given up seven earned runs and 14 walks, and opponents are hitting just .125 against him.
Before anointing Chapman or Kimbrel -- or even both -- as the NL Cy Young favorite, there are certainly other deserving candidates including the following: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets; Johnny Cueto, Reds; Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals; Stephen Strasburg, Nationals; and Kyle Lohse, Cardinals.
If any of these pitchers won the award, there would likely not be any heated debates. All these pitchers have earned consideration for the award. However, if Chapman and Kimbrel don’t at least crack the top-five, then there’s something wrong with the voting.
Sure, there’s the annual Rolaids Relief Man award, but a Cy Young award carries much more weight, and these two closers are worthy of a pitcher’s highest honor.