Could a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers win the Cy Young award in 2016? It is possible. Here are two pitchers who could take home the hardware.
As of late, the Detroit Tigers have had quite the association with the Cy Young award. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer both won the award while wearing a Detroit uniform, and former Tiger David Price won the trophy prior to arriving in Motown. In fact, there was a time when Detroit employed three consecutive Cy Young winners in Verlander, Scherzer and Price.
Times have changed the Tigers. Scherzer and Price have both departed, but Verlander remains. The longtime Tiger is one of the few pitchers in the current rotation capable of winning another Cy Young award.
Some will tell you that Verlander isn’t the same pitcher—and while that’s somewhat true as JV isn’t the flamethrower he once was— it doesn’t mean he can’t succeed.
Like new teammate Francisco Rodriguez, Verlander now relies on placement and off-speed offerings. It isn’t that the starter wasn’t before, but the reality is that no one can throw 99 mph forever.
With the newfound approach, the former MVP thrived in his final 11 starts of 2015. Verlander held batters to miniscule .194 batting average and posted an ace-like 2.12 ERA. What’s more, he also proved he can still strikeout batters at a high rate. In the 11 game stretch, the 33-year-old struck out seven or batters in a start seven different times in the 11 game stretch.
If he can post similar numbers in 2016, there’s no reason why he can’t contend for a Cy Young. Luckily for the Tigers, early indications are that Verlander can keep the success going, in five spring starts, his ERA is 2.84.
In addition to the longtime ace pitching better, he’ll also have an offense behind him that is both revamped and healthy.
While Jordan Zimmermann has never won the award, he’s Detroit’s best bet outside of Verlander to bring the award back to Michigan.
The former Washington National has twice finished in the top seven in voting for the Cy Young. Both of those instances came rather recently, as the right-hander placed seventh in 2013 and fifth in 2014.
The veteran has clearly shown that he can succeed. In 2013 he won 19 games and led the league in shutouts. If that wasn’t enough, 2014 saw him post a 2.66 ERA and a stellar 4.9 WAR.
A (slight) down year in 2015 probably allowed Zimmermann to land with the Tigers from a price tag standpoint in free agency, but there’s no denying that he can pitch. In his down season, the former National led the league in starts with 33, and posted 13 wins and a 3.5 WAR to go along with a respectable 3.66 ERA.
While those numbers don’t scream Cy Young winner, Zimmermann was in part hurt by his Washington teammates. The starter had a .302 BABIP, and was especially done in by a statistically poor infield defense. With Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias fielding ground balls for him in Detroit, Zimmermann should thrive.
Verlander and Zimmermann aren’t exactly the front runners for the award at this point in time, but then again few (if any) had Dallas Keuchel or Jake Arrieta winning the hardware last season. Time will tell, but Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann represent the best chance for the Detroit Tigers to claim another Cy Young award.
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