Rick Porcello isn’t gonna win the Cy Young again this year. Not with that 0.0 WAR and 4.46 ERA he won’t. Neither will David Price. He missed two months. Chris Sale? 4.70 ERA in his last six starts. Great pitcher? Still really good numbers on the year? Yes, and yes. But Sale tends to be a Cy Young contender, and not a winner of such an award. Well, how about Craig Kimbrel?
Well, how about Craig Kimbrel? See! Now that’s a guy who could at least be in the conversation for such an award, regardless of what people think of relief pitchers.
Here’s the quick rundown on Kimbrel. He’s got a 1.01 ERA and 17 saves in 25 outings spanning 26.2 innings. Lately, he’s come in to pitch in tight eighth inning situations too and bailed the Red Sox out in the process. Oh, and he’s got 53 strikeouts which is 17.9 men per nine innings. So, he strikes out two guys an inning. If he faces a batter, that batter is probably going to strike out. Batters are hitting .089 off him. That’s bad, even for a pitcher hitting.
The last closer to win a Cy Young was Eric Gagne in the NL in 2003. Recording 55 saves, he had a 1.20 ERA and struck out 15 men per nine innings pitched. He was worked rather heavily though, hurling 82.1 innings in 67 outings. That’s very likely more than Kimbrel will be used this year.
Even so, there’s a case to be made for Kimbrel. If he keeps up what he’s doing, he’s got to be in the conversation, at least.
Plus, if he can get 40 saves this year, his 40th would be his 300th career save, and he’s only 29 right now. So, if we’re being honest, we could even talk about his Hall of Fame case if he has five more dominant seasons, which is a lot to ask, but still…