Their emotions on the MLB Network show were a study in contrasts. There was Cleveland's Corey Kluber, as impassive as he's been in the many instances that earned him the "Klubot" nickname, sitting there and offering perhaps the slightest smile detectable by major magnification. And then, there was Washington's Max
Their emotions on the MLB Network show were a study in contrasts. There was Cleveland's Corey Kluber, as impassive as he's been in the many instances that earned him the "Klubot" nickname, sitting there and offering perhaps the slightest smile detectable by major magnification. And then, there was Washington's Max Scherzer, arms aloft and head thrown back in jubilation.
They might have had distinctly different reactions the moment their names were called in Wednesday's unveiling of the Cy Young Award winners by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, but Scherzer and Kluber have similarly dominant success stories.
Now, they're back atop baseball's pitching totem pole. Scherzer won his second career National League Cy Young Award, and third Cy Young overall, while Kluber claimed his second AL Cy Young Award.
Having also won the Cy Young with the Nationals in 2016 and with the Tigers in '13, Scherzer became just the 10th pitcher to win the award in back-to-back seasons and also the 10th to win it at least three times.
And Scherzer has more than just the Cy Young hardware on the way.
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"Here in a week, my wife is due," Scherzer said. "Little Brooke is going to be coming on the way, so this is an exciting time for us. We're really pumped. We were actually thinking we might actually be in the hospital tonight, so glad we're not."
:: NL Cy Young Award voting totals ::
That only added to Scherzer's excitement. Meanwhile, the simply stoic Kluber is the 19th pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards and the first member of the Indians to do so.
"Winning the second one validates the first one, so to speak," Kluber said. "I think it's just another way to find that reassurance when you're going through hard times, you're struggling, working your way through things, you always want to have that self-belief to fall back on. Know that even though it seems like things might be going pretty poorly at the time, you can work your way out of it and get back to a certain level."
Scherzer's third Cy Young ties Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who finished second in the voting. The others with at least three Cy Youngs are Roger Clemens (seven), Randy Johnson (five), Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux (four each) and Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver and Sandy Koufax (three each).
Kershaw was hoping to become just the fourth pitcher to win the Cy Young a fourth time, but he garnered just three first-place votes to Scherzer's 27. Scherzer's Nationals teammate, Stephen Strasburg, finished third in the NL voting.
Workload was a separator for Scherzer, as Kershaw and Strasburg had been limited to 175 and 175 1/3 innings pitched, respectively, because of injury.
The 33-year-old Scherzer, who has finished in the top five in Cy Young voting every year since 2013, had his own medical hiccups to work through, including a neck issue and a hamstring problem late in the year and a lingering stress fracture in his right ring finger that caused discomfort in Spring Training.
"I was behind the entire time," Scherzer said. "I didn't think I was going to start the season on time, and the fact that we were able to rush through it to get to start the season basically on time, we were so thankful for that."
Scherzer went 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA over 200 2/3 innings, while recording league bests in strikeouts (268), WHIP (0.90) and hits allowed per nine innings (5.7). The WHIP and hits-per-nine marks were career bests for Scherzer, as was his rate of 12 strikeouts per nine innings.
Kluber, who previously won the Cy Young Award in 2014, was also affected by injury, but he came roaring back from an early back issue to storm past Boston ace Chris Sale in the AL Cy Young race.
:: AL Cy Young Award voting totals ::
When Kluber returned from the disabled list on June 1, he had a 5.06 ERA. But over the course of his final 23 starts of the regular season, Kluber posted a 1.62 ERA and limited batters to a .175/.213/.283 slash line.
"I dealt with a little more physically than I had in the past, and you kind of learn how to deal with those different ups and downs and manage the course of the year," Kluber said. "I think there's different things that pop up for every player and pitcher throughout the course of the year."
It helped Kluber's cause that his Indians teammates had his back. They scored 14 runs (13 earned) off Sale over two August appearances.
Kluber led all qualified starters in ERA (2.25), complete games (five), shutouts (three), ERA+ (202), WHIP (0.87) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.36), while tying for the lead in wins (18). The missed time did not prevent Kluber from crossing the 200-inning threshold for the fourth straight season.
Sale finished second in the AL voting in his first year with the Red Sox, garnering two first-place votes. He has finished in the top six of the AL Cy Young voting in all six of his years as a big league starter. Yankees right-hander Luis Severino wrapped up his breakout year with a third-place finish.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.