Greinke struck out 15, walked one, gave up a solo homer, scattered 4 hits over 8 innings, threw exactly 117 pitches for the fourth* time this year. He also recorded one of the rare, ball-in-play outs himself on a spectacular leaping top of the apex snag, and subsequent flip to first. This on the same day that a pop-up behind the mound in Boston dropped because Hideki Okajima did not go the five steps necessary to catch it.
*He has yet to throw as many as 118 pitches.
Greinke might not have the best statistical year in baseball at the end of the year, but it's remarkable that EVERY other contender for the AL Cy Young has been shelled this week in their turn through the rotation (Halladay, Verlander, Beckett, King Felix). Last week, Tim Kurkjian took Greinke in a close call in predicting the AL Cy Young winner, and since then, every other candidate's case has gotten much weaker, and Greinke's has only strengthened.
So, it frames the question quite nicely: how many games does Greinke need to win to get the votes of the AL Cy Young award winners. If he holds onto the ERA title by this margin, I think he needs 16 wins to get most votes.
I think a majority of voters will look first at the win totals before anything else, but keep in mind that the AL isn't going to have anyone hit that magical win number of 20. C.C. Sabathia has a reasonable shot. He's 5 wins away on the best team in baseball. But he would still have to win more than half his starts. Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander have 14 wins, and either could get as high as 18 with some luck. If Greinke could get to 16, or better yet, 17 wins, and doesn't lose 10 games this season (a one start margin for error), there's no one who would qualify for "being a winner" with regards to him. History suggests that winning percentage doesn't matter as much to the voters as raw win totals.
Sure, there's going to be a bias towards larger markets, but it's not like either Justin Verlander or Felix Hernandez has a particular intangible advantage over Greinke (unless the Tigers lock up the division early). In the eyes of many, it's still his award to win, and I think Rob Neyer is being a little bit paranoid when he writes:
Of course he's still a long shot for the Cy Young Award, because thanks to his non-hitting teammates he's got only 12 wins. And as we saw earlier, it'll take 17 or 18 wins to even be a part of the serious Cy Young discussion. Felix Hernandez (12-5, 2.73) is in exactly the same boat: brilliant pitching, lousy hitting. So unless one of those guys gets exceptionally lucky down the stretch, they're out.
It's absolutely factual that Greinke has to be better than simply "the best" to win an award that has historically gone to the pitcher with the most wins and best ERA, but unlike the MVP award, the voters are not inherently biased to the best pitcher on the best team. That's Sabathia, but people are aware that he has not pitched quite as well this year as in the last two seasons. Greinke absolutely has been lapping the field this year, and if his September looks anything like last September, he's going to win the award.
If Zack goes 3-3 with a 3.80 ERA down the stretch, well, it'd be hard to complain that he got jobbed as at that point, you could pretty much pick him or any of three other candidates and be justified in your reasoning.
Congrats to Mitch Maier on his first major league homer, a two run bomb in the 7th inning yesterday. Maier is a homegrown talent, and I think this organization can find a place for him on the roster next year.
Hitter of the game: Mitch Maier
Pitcher of the game: Zack Greinke
Today, the Royals lost a rather unremarkable 4-2 game to the Indians. Luke Hochevar threw well, but not in the kind of way that makes him look like a future No. 2 starter.
Hitter of game: Billy Butler
Pitcher of the game: Luke Hochevar