Aug 9, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Texas, 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
The King: Felix Hernandez
King Felix is hardly a newcomer to the Cy Young scene. He took home the award in 2010, after one of his many stellar campaigns with the Seattle Mariners, and he’s been in the conversation ever since. Hernandez is sporting a 3.08 ERA this season, and he’s struck out nearly a batter per inning, after amassing 145 strikeouts in 150.2 innings. That strikeout total is ranked seventh in the AL, and Felix is also in sole possession of first place with 14 wins. Add in a pair of complete games and a .234 opponents’ batting average, and Hernandez is having a great season, even if it’s not quite on par with Gray’s.
So why does Hernandez still find himself on the list of potential competitors for the Cy Young? Last season, he led the AL with a 2.14 ERA – significantly better than Kluber’s 2.44. What he lacked were wins, coming in at 15 compared to 18, and strikeouts, with 248 compared to 269. Even though he had a better ERA, more innings pitched, and a league-leading .92 WHIP, Hernandez still found himself the runner-up in Cy Young voting. The award instead went to someone with more punch-outs and victories – a position Hernandez finds himself in compared to Gray this season.
Hernandez is a pitcher who is inferior to Gray in terms of talent this year, but stands a very good change at usurping the award due to his success in categories Gray has struggled in. Only time will tell if Hernandez’s success in wins and strikeouts will lead to a second Cy Young Award, but it’s certainly a possibility.
Next: Cy Young Candidate: The Trade Piece