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David Price vs Dallas Keuchel: Who Will Win the 2015 Cy Young?

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The National League and American League Cy Young Awards have been some of the most exciting races in recent years. Zach Grienke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw are in a pretty tight race in the National League with Grienke and Arriete pitching to a sub 2 ERA. While in the American League, the front runner all year Dallas Keuchel, has recently allowed the Blue Jays David Price to gain some ground with a couple of recent bad outings. These two lefties get it done in different ways, but they seem to be neck and neck as the season come to a close, but lets go a little deeper into their stellar seasons.

Drafted 221st overall, ranked the Astros 21st prospect in 2011, and throwing vFA 89.6, no one expected Dallas Keuchel to be the player he is today. After a solid 2014, where Keuchel went 200IP, 2.93ERA, and winning the AL Gold Glove, Kuechel was set to become the Astros number one starting pitcher. Right from the get go Kuechel came storming out the gate, looking like the most dominant pitcher in the American League and leading the surprising Houston Astros to an early division lead. (Houston lost 111games in 2013)

*Dallas Keuchel 2015 First Half Stats. (Keuchel would become the starting pitcher on the American League All-Star Team)

Keuchel became the face of the franchise and the easy candidate for the AL Cy Young Award. Keuchel gets it done with four pitches all focused on location, location, location! Keuchel’s Sinker/Four-Seam/Slider combo are used 78.3% of the time, which contributes to his success as a ground ball pitcher (62.3GB% in 2015) As shown by his heat map via Fangraphs.com, Keuchel lives going down and away with his mix of pitches.

Keuchal Heatmap via Fangraphs.com

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

For how good Dallas Keuchel has been all year, it was his award to lose. As we witnessed last year as American League front runner Felix Hernandez had one of his career worst performance in his second to last start of the year in Toronto, giving up 6H 4ER in 4.2IP. That start was bad enough for Felix to lose the Cy Young award to Corey Kluber, even though Felix had a better ERA, WHIP, and slightly more innings pitched in the same amount of games started. The focus turned to Kluber due to his WAR and his ability to strikeout nearly every batter he faced.

Keuchel recently had one of those “Felix in Toronto” like games… but only worse. Keuchel, on September 16th, in a very important game against the now AL West leading Texas Rangers, pitched 4.2 innings giving up 9 earned runs. This start alone shifted the focus on David Price making it now his award to lose.

David Price came into the league in the completely opposite way that Keuchel did. Being the first overall pick in the 2007 Draft to the Tampa Bay Rays and being Baseball America’s #2 Prospect in the 2008 season, Price was always gonna be a superstar. In 2010 ,Price would grow from pitching out of the bullpen to full on ace, pitching in his first All-Star Game in 2010. Price would win the American League Cy Young Award in 2012, and after two years falling outside the top five in voting, it looks like David Price could be a front runner for the Cy Young award this year. Price, in 2012 won a close battle for the AL Cy Young, beating by four points in voting. It’s amazing that Price has actually been better this year!

Price has definitely had a great contract year, but winning his second Cy Young Award would put him in a elite list of only 17 pitchers in history to win multiple Cy Young Awards.

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Both pitchers have pretty comparable pitching arsenals. Their sinker/four seam combo are some of the best in the league, both with an at least +16 effectiveness. Keuchel lives using that deadly Slider to go down and away with guys. Price uses his changeup/curveball combo more to mix up his speeds with certain batters. The velocity of these pitchers couldn’t be more differently. Price’s velocity challenges batters with his four seamer reaching up to 97 and his vCH 85.2 all of Price’s pitches are 4-5mph faster than Keuchel, who’s vFB 89.6 and vCH being 79.0, completely different than Price. Lets compare the voting stats to see who the real winner is. With Price shut down for the season and Keuchel likely to make one last start, this award chase might be closer than we think!

*wFB accounts for all Fastballs including Cutters and Sinkers

If we look at the voting stats like ERA, IP, WHIP, and WAR the two are virtually neck and neck! If we judge strictly by numbers, these two are basically tied for the award. That means that this will most likely come down to how Keuchel plays in his final start of the year. I do still think this is David Price’s award to win, but if Keuchel has a good game against the under rated A.J. Pollock and NL MLP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, it might make people reconsider.

Hypothetically lets say Keuchel and Price give up 10ER in 3IP in their last start of the year (I know Price is done for the year just dream with me folks!), do we consider giving the award to Chris Sale? I know Sale has currently the 10th best ERA in the American League but lets consider a few things. He has the same WAR as Keuchel, at 6.2, Sales stands on the mound with one of the worst defenses behind him FIP 2.70, and strikes out enough batters every game even I get tired of listening to “He gon!”

With Sale striking out batters left and right are we crazy not to consider him as well?

Next: Blue Jays Hidden Assets #3: Remember Michael Saunders

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