New York Yankees: Could Luis Severino steal the AL Cy Young?

Luis Severino has had a great season, great enough that he could wind up stealing the AL Cy Young Award.

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New York Yankees ace Luis Severino proved once again last night why he isn’t to be taken lightly and deserves Cy Young consideration. The 23-year-old righty improved his record to 12-6 and allowed just two hits and an unearned run in six innings in New York’s 9-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Severino walked none, struck out nine and induced 10 groundball outs.

Nobody is really discussing the idea at length, but Severino is putting himself in a position to potentially come out of nowhere and go home with this year’s AL Cy Young Award. The odds are stacked against him, but there is still an outside chance that the Dominican sensation could lead voters to surprise everyone.

Severino’s competition

There are two men standing in the way of Severino taking home the AL Cy Young: Boston Red Sox lefty Chris Sale and Cleveland Indians ace (and 2014 AL Cy Young winner) Corey Kluber.

The clear favorite in the race, despite his recent struggles, is Sale. He is 15-7 on the year and ranks second in the AL with a 2.85 ERA, plus is first with 275 strikeouts. Opposing hitters are batting just .201 against Sale and he has twice made history this season. Sale became the fastest in baseball history to reach 1,500 career strikeouts and was also the quickest in AL history to 200 strikeouts in a season. He has gone 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA since August 1 but is still having a dream season to the point where it would be harder to justify NOT giving him the trophy as opposed to awarding him it.

But what about Kluber? He himself is 14-4 on the year and leads the AL with a 2.54 ERA. Kluber also has 222 strikeouts in just 168.2 innings and opposing hitters are batting just .194 against him, not at all bad considering he missed a month of action with a back strain.

Kluber has also been a model of consistency since August 1, going 6-1 with a 1.83 ERA.

Needless to say, Severino’s competition speaks for itself and it wouldn’t exactly be the worst kind of robbery if he was denied the AL Cy Young this year.

Severino by the numbers

And though Severino hasn’t been the most dominant of pitchers this season, he deserves strong consideration for the award. His 3.03 ERA ranks third in the AL behind Kluber and Sale, and he is actually better than his 12-6 record suggests.

Consider this. In the six games in which Severino took the loss this year, the Yankees averaged just 2.5 runs per game. I don’t care how strong a pitcher is, getting a win when your team isn’t delivering at the plate is an uphill battle that Severino knows all too well.

That’s an interesting statistic, especially since Severino currently ranks fifth in the Majors with 5.44 runs of support per game, but it just goes to show that he cannot be 100 percent blamed for his six losses.

Moreover, there have been plenty of cases where the men who took home the Cy Young Award didn’t have the prettiest numbers. Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez took home the trophy in 2010 but was 13-12 on the year. Back in 1996, Toronto Blue Jays righty Pat Hentgen won the Cy Young despite having double-digit losses and an ERA over 3. Arizona Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb took home the gold in 2006 despite going just 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA and only 178 strikeouts.

And, naturally, there are other factors in each of these wins. Hernandez, despite his average win-loss record, led the Majors with a 2.27 ERA. Hentgen led all baseball with 265.2 innings in his Cy Young season and also had an incredible 10 complete games. Webb’s 16 wins were part of a five-way tie for most in the NL the year he won the trophy and he also tossed 30 consecutive scoreless frames at one point.

Final thoughts

Severino has no such factors boosting his case, but that doesn’t take away from how much he deserves a shot at the Cy Young Award. Opposing hitters are batting only .215 against him and Severino last night became the youngest Yankees pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in a season since Al Downing in 1964. His 201 strikeouts in 169.1 innings are nothing to sneeze at and mean he deserves just as much consideration as Kluber or Sale.

The rest is up to those who vote, so here’s hoping they give Severino a fair shake and don’t just use total numbers as their criteria.