There is a lot of baseball to play even though it is early August, but James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners has to be the Cy Young front-runner.
He is not really a household name, but his numbers have been great, and the Seattle staff would be in trouble without him. The Mariners are still in the playoff race and while they are 15 games out of first place in the AL West, they are only 1.5 games out of the Wild Card. The lineup is one of the main reasons, as is Paxton, who is the leader of the staff.
Putting it together
Paxton is tied for first with Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale for the best ERA in the American League and is tied for second in wins. He has picked up the win in each of his last seven starts, giving up two earned runs or fewer in every appearance during that spell.
In his last eight starts his ERA has gone from 3.39 to 2.70. The injury bug has hit Seattle’s staff hard this season and without Paxton being the leader of the rotation, the M’s may not be in the playoff race. Paxton’s 12 wins lead the Mariners ahead of Ariel Miranda who has 7 wins and an ERA of 4.41. Former Ace Felix Hernandez has been far from his best this season with only five wins, an ERA of 4.28, and an arm injury that has kept him out since July 31st. Seattle ranks in the middle of the pack in the Majors in team ERA (15th) and would not be nearly as good without Paxton and his great season.
Where does he stand against the competition?
When looking at Paxton’s competition for the Cy Young they have to be Sale, Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, and Kansas City’s Jason Vargas.
Sale has to be the likely front-runner, as his first season in a Red Sox uniform has been impressive. He is tied with Paxton for the AL lead in ERA and tied with Vargas for the AL lead in wins. Boston has a better staff than Seattle, ranking 3rd in the Majors in team ERA with a rotation that includes David Price and Drew Pomeranz (11 wins).
Vargas’ Cy Young hopes have dimmed in the last few weeks, as he only has one win in his last six starts with multiple appearances in which he allowed six earned runs. He has not had a strong 2nd half, and that has been the book on him with a less than stellar career ERA of 4.58 after the all-star break. His ERA has jumped from 2.18 to 3.10 in his last 10 starts and you can’t win the Cy Young with just an outstanding first half of a season. Corey Kluber may be in the mix, but while ranking 2nd in the AL in ERA he has only nine wins and, after a dominating stretch, he has cooled off.
He is not the biggest name but is having a big season. If the season ended today Paxton should win the AL Cy Young and he may do so if he keeps up his solid work, and especially if Seattle makes the playoffs.
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