Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in the American League and in general Major League Baseball.
Just thought we’d establish that.
Knowing this it’s easy to speculate that more Cy Young wins are on the horizon for the Tigers ace. People will see this and respond with “repeats are rare” or “too much competition”.
In most years this criteria is sound, but maybe not this year or in the coming years.
The American League pitching pool has gone as dry as the desert in an Arizona summer. Zack Grienke, Roy Halladay and Johan Santana, arguably three of the better American League pitchers in the last decade who are still playing, have all seen their zip codes change to National League cities. CJ Wilson and Mark Buerhle are being wooed by various NL clubs in free agency.
Felix Hernandez, Micheal Pineda, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahil are worthy, but can’t get any run support. Jeremy Helickson and David Price are also worthy, but suffer from a small market club where their run support may be deemed too expensive and shipped out for salary relief, hence putting them in the previous category. Ricky Romero is another candidate, but has the drawback of facing New York, Boston and Tampa Bay more than most teams. Ubaldo Jimmenez certainly could do it talent-wise, but seemed to crash and burn with the Tribe down the stretch. Jeremy Guithre could be dangerous with a legitimate offense. Josh Beckett seems to be on the downspin of his career, but you never know. Doug Fister certainly seems a viable option, but will voters be able to get over the fact that he’s the number two behind Verlander? Max Scherzer could also be dangerous if he can avoid Mr. Hyde and stick with Dr. Jekyll, so to speak.
Really that leaves John Lester and CC Sabathia, along with Verlander. We could very well see some combination of the three at the top of the ballots next year.
But who knows, we could see prized prospects like Matt Moore, Manny Banuelos or Jacob Turner tearing it up for clubs, or we might see someone like a Brandon Webb or Jake Peavey have a spectacular year that re-establishes themselves in the upper pantheon of major league pitchers. Or in all reality might see Justin Verlander get the Cy Young once again.