Barring a massive collapse, Tigers ace Justin Verlander will win the 2011 American League Cy Young award.
The right-hander leads the league in wins (21), ERA (2.34), WHIP (0.91), strikeouts (223), opponent batting average (.192), and innings pitched (223.0). At this point, it’s almost guaranteed.
With that said, Jon Lester is mounting a late-season charge to enter the A.L. Cy Young picture. The Red Sox left-hander threw seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts in Toronto on Tuesday night and is now 15-6 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
Lester is 4-0 over his last five starts. He has allowed four earned runs and only 19 hits in 31 innings during that span.
The lefty is now tied for fourth in the A.L. in wins (with the Yankees’ Ivan Nova) and is just three percentage points shy of cracking the top five in ERA.
Lester had an outside chance at winning the Cy Young in 2010 before a disastrous final start in Chicago (4 IP, 8 ER) cost him a shot at the hardware. He finished fourth in the voting as Felix Hernandez took home the award.
It won’t be nearly as disappointing when Lester isn’t selected as the league’s top pitcher this year, but if he continues to throw well, adding another top five vote to his resume isn’t a stretch.
Lester hasn’t pitched like an ace for much of the 2011 season, but he’s certainly pitching like one now as the Red Sox head toward the postseason. In the end, that’s what truly matters to Boston.
So although the Sox may not have a Cy Young winner in their rotation this year, they appear to have one of the game’s most dominant lefties back on a roll.
Alastair Ingram is the featured Boston Red Sox columnist for RantSports.com. For daily updates, follow him on Twitter at @AlastairIngram, follow the blog at @RedSoxRant, and join the fan page on Facebook.