In what promises to be a strange 2020 season, the Oakland A’s may have a Cy Young candidate in closer Liam Hendriks.
When thinking about possible Cy Young candidates on the Oakland A’s, only a couple of pitchers come to mind. Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas have had their moments, but have yet to put everything together over a full season. Then, as an extreme dark horse candidate, there is closer Liam Hendriks.
He arguably deserved consideration for the award last season. In a season that surprised virtually everyone in the baseball universe, Hendriks took over as the A’s closer and dominated. He notched 25 saves while posting a 1.80 ERA and a 0.965 WHiP. Over his 85 innings, Hendriks struck out 124 batters with just 21 walks.
The issue is that closers do not factor into the Cy Young race any longer. Nine closers have won the award over the years, with three of those even winning the MVP. However, the last closer to win the Cy Young was Eric Gagne in 2003; before him, it was former A’s closer Dennis Eckersley – in 1992.
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In what would have been a normal season, it was highly improbable that any closer would win the award. A truly dominant closer may earn a vote or two, but they will not factor into the final tally. Simply, closers, or relievers in general, are not considered as important a piece in the minds of the voters.
But this is 2020. The MLB season will last for 60 games, with even most used starters unlike to have more than 15 appearances for the season. The bullpen in general, and closers specifically, will be far more important to the overall success of the team.
That will shine a brighter light on every team’s closer. Each victory is going to be vital in the postseason chase, with each save situation that much more important. It is a time for relievers to shine, and possibly, earn some deserved hardware along the way.
If Oakland A’s closer Liam Hendriks can replicate his success from 2019, he could contend for the Cy Young. In what could be a crazy season, why not?