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Cy Young poll: 1 race a battle of 2 teammates

@RichardJustice
August 27, 2019

Astros teammates Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have been the American League’s two most dominant pitchers pretty much since Opening Day, so it’s appropriate that the AL Cy Young Award race is between them. Verlander this week finished atop MLB.com's survey of its reporters for the sixth straight time and

Astros teammates Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have been the American League’s two most dominant pitchers pretty much since Opening Day, so it’s appropriate that the AL Cy Young Award race is between them.

Verlander this week finished atop MLB.com's survey of its reporters for the sixth straight time and received 21 of 37 first-place votes. But Cole got the other 16 first-place votes in a race that could come down to what each voter values in terms of statistics and performance.

Meanwhile, the National League race remains competitive as well with Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu receiving 22 first-place votes and winning for the fourth time in the last five surveys. Max Scherzer, despite pitching just twice since the All-Star break, remains in the mix with 11 first-place votes, while Mets ace Jacob deGrom got four.

Here’s one of the featured matchups of the week: Rays right-hander Charlie Morton, a former Astro, finished third in the AL poll and will start opposite Verlander on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. They were teammates for part of the 2017 season and the entire 2018 campaign.

Two statistics reflect the closeness of the AL race: Verlander leads the league with 239 strikeouts. Cole has one fewer (238). Cole leads the AL with a 2.75 ERA. Verlander is .02 behind at 2.77.

Here’s a breakdown of the top three in each league:

MLB.com reporters were asked to rank their top three choices in each league, with five points for a first-place vote, three for second place and one for third.)

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Justin Verlander (21 first-place votes)

His 0.81 WHIP would qualify as the second-best single-season mark since the Dead Ball Era -- Pedro Martinez had a 0.74 WHIP in 2000, which is the lowest in history. Verlander has led the AL in WHIP three times (2011, '16, '18). He has double-digit strikeouts in seven straight starts, becoming the fifth player to do so along with Chris Sale, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Martinez. Sale and Martinez own the MLB record, as each pushed their streak to eight games (something Sale has accomplished twice).

Gerrit Cole (16 first-place votes)
He’s unbeaten in 15 consecutive starts, going 11-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings during that stretch. The Astros are 13-2 in those games. His streak of 11 consecutive wins is a career high and the most for the Astros since Wade Miller won 12 straight in 2002. He has allowed more than two earned runs once in those 15 starts and finished at least seven innings in seven of his last nine games.

Charlie Morton (0 first-place votes)
His 2.85 ERA is third in the AL, behind only Verlander and Cole, and his name is dotted across the leaderboard: second in OPS (.604), fourth in WHIP (1.06) and batting average (.212) and tied for sixth in strikeouts (197). On Aug. 16, he became the first AL pitcher in four years to be charged with a loss while not allowing an earned run and getting double-digit strikeouts.

Others receiving votes: Mike Minor, Lucas Giolito, Shane Bieber, Aroldis Chapman.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Hyun-Jin Ryu (22 first-place votes)
Before the Yankees scored seven earned runs off Ryu on Friday at Dodger Stadium, he'd allowed two earned runs in his previous 57 2/3 innings at home. In 24 starts overall this season, he has allowed more than two earned runs just three times.

Max Scherzer (11 first-place votes)
He remains near the top of the Cy Young poll despite making just the two starts since the All-Star break, including a four-inning, one-run effort against the Pirates this past Thursday. Nevertheless, his 2.41 ERA is the second-lowest in the NL, and his 192 strikeouts are the fourth-most. Before dealing with his injury issues, he’d pitched at least seven innings in seven straight starts and given up more than one run once during that stretch.

Jacob deGrom (4 first-place votes)
His 1.04 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break is the NL’s second-lowest. deGrom has four 200-strikeout seasons in the last five years, joining Tom Seaver (nine), Dwight Gooden (four) and David Cone (four) as the only Mets to post at least four 200-strikeout seasons. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 17 straight starts and 52 of 55.

Others receiving votes: Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, Kirby Yates.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.