Top 15 Candidates for 2014 AL Cy Young Award

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Top 15 Candidates for 2014 AL CY Young Award

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With Spring Training getting set to open up, it is never too early to start looking at the year end awards. Who are the top pitchers in the AL that could be in Cy Young contention this season?

Lately, the award has been difficult to get out of Motown as members of the Detroit Tigers have claimed the top honor in two of the last three years. How will Detroit's top duo fare in 2014?

If a Tiger is able to win the Cy Young this season, the franchise will tie the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles for the most awards by an AL team in history with six. In addition, if either Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer find themselves with the most votes at the end of the year, they will become the only active pitcher in the AL with multiple Cy Young awards. The preseason odds look to be in favor of the Tiger twosome.

Aside from Detroit, there will be plenty of arms vying for the award. Does a relief pitcher have any chance to win the award? Koji Uehara of the Red Sox was a surprising seventh in voting last year. There will also be several top arms pitching in contract years looking to cash in on new deals for 2015. Those pitchers will look to have big years before heading to the open market.

Here are the top 15 candidates for the 2014 AL Cy Young Award as pitchers and catchers get set to report for the spring.

Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.

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15. Masahiro Tanaka - NYY

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Masahiro Tanaka was the much-hyped arm from Japan that landed in the Bronx. He will have all eyes on him to see if he can justify the high price tag. How will Tanaka fare in year one?

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14. Sonny Gray - OAK

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Sonny Gray is one of the young arms for the Oakland A's. He performed well in the playoffs last season and just may be a wild-card that sneaks into the Cy Young race this year.

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13. CC Sabathia - NYY

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CC Sabathia struggled last year as the ace of the New York Yankees, but this year he will have more protection from the previously mentioned Tanaka. Sabathia has also slimmed down this winter which could lead to a Cy Young worthy stat line this year.

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12. James Shields - KC

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Big Game James Shields will be the ace of the trendy Kansas City Royals. He is also one of the starters that will be a free-agent after the season.

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11. Felix Hernandez - SEA

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King Felix Hernandez has electric stuff and there is no arguing that. However, his win-loss record is stuck around the .500 mark. Some of that can be attributed to the team, but it should be more dominating to garner serious consideration.

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10. Hisashi Iwakuma - SEA

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Hisashi Iwakuma is one of the most under the radar starters out there, and he finished third in the voting last season. He finished 14-6 on a bad club, but now the Seattle Mariners have improved this offseason which could lead to a few more wins.

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9. Relief Pitcher Honorable Mention

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There are two closers that could get recognition this year and receive some votes. Koji Uehara of the Boston Red Sox finished seventh last year, and if he can duplicate his success may get some consideration this year too.

Jim Johnson will be pitching for the Oakland A's this year. He has totaled 101 saves the last two seasons and will head arguably one of the best bullpens in all of baseball this year. Out by the bay, Johnson could have a huge season in his new pitcher friendly environment.

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8. Justin Verlander - DET

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Justin Verlander ran into some struggles last season and had some minor surgery done in the offseason. He is half of the Detroit duo, but how will he bounce back coming off just a 13-12 season?

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7. Chris Sale - CHW

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Chris Sale finished fifth in voting a season ago. He was the ace of a bad team in Chicago that could be on the upswing in 2014. He is by far and away one of the best young lefties slinging it right now and will garner more votes this year.

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6. Jon Lester - BOS

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Jon Lester is another good lefty on this list. He had a real bounce back year under the new coaching staff and has proven that he can be lights out in October. Lester should continue to improve and find his way into Cy Young talks.

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5. David Price - TB

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When David Price is at No. 5 you know there is strong competition around him. The 2012 Cy Young winner only had 10 wins a season ago, but he has established himself as a big-time pitcher. Might he be pitching for more than one team during the season?

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4. Clay Buchholz - BOS

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Clay Buchholz was 12-1 last year. If it were not for an injury and time on the disabled list he could have really given Max Scherzer a run at the top. If Buchholz can stay healthy, he should get major consideration for the award.

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3. Yu Darvish - TEX

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Yu Darvish was the runner-up last season. He will be entering his third season in the big leagues and will need to carry the staff down in Texas to try and get back to the playoffs. Darvish led the AL in strikeouts a season ago.

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2. Max Scherzer - DET

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It is hard to repeat for any award, and for that reason Max Scherzer gets the runner-up spot on the list. He was the runaway winner doubling up Darvish in votes last season. Scherzer was the only 20-game winner in the AL a year ago and will be looking to cash in on a major contract at season's end.

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1. Matt Moore - TB

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This pick may be going out on a limb, but the ability and potential of Matt Moore can back it up. Moore was 17-4 a season ago while missing some time with an injury. He may not total the strikeout amount of a Darvish or Scherzer, but he did finish in the top-10 in ERA. Moore is a Cy Young Bold Prediction alert. With the last three winners coming from Detroit, Tampa Bay and Detroit again, it seems fitting.

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