The Toronto Blue Jays have the new AL Cy Young favorite in lefty Robbie Ray, and it’s possible the Jays also could have the AL MVP in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., although he’s a +750 longer shot on the MLB odds behind Angels dual-threat star Shohei Ohtani (-2000).
Could Blue Jays Have AL MVP & Cy Young?
Ray had been the second favorite to win the Cy Young but the previous leader, the New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole, was roughed up for a season-high-tying seven earned runs on a season-high 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings in a loss to Cleveland on Sunday. The Yankees are 7-15 since their 13-game winning streak and are 1 1/2 games out of a postseason spot, their largest deficit since Aug. 1.
Cole (15-8) had pitched to a 1.35 ERA while giving up just five earned runs over his previous six outings since being activated from the COVID-19 list on Aug. 16. He matched that run total over Sunday’s first three innings, however, surrendering two runs in the first and three in the third.
“It’s obviously been a thing that’s puzzled us the most this year. We’ve got to get better in a hurry. Period. That just wasn’t good enough today,” Manager Aaron Boone said after Sunday’s loss. “The important thing to remember is we’re not far off from where we were a couple of weeks ago, where we were running them off. But we’ve got to be better.”
Ray (12-5, 2.64) was spectacular again last Wednesday, striking out 13 while holding the Rays to one run over seven innings in the Blue Jays’ 6-3 victory. He fanned at least one batter in each of his seven innings, helping him to his 10th game with 10-plus strikeouts this season. The only other Blue Jay to hit that mark was Roger Clemens (1997, 1998).
“It’s tough to make an argument that that’s not the best fastball going right now in the American League,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s a simple approach. It’s very simple. He’s gonna throw it. … So it’s kind of one of those tip-your-cap days and tip-your-cap seasons to him.”
It was Ray’s fifth double-digit strikeout game in his past six. Ray leads the AL in WAR, ERA, lowest rate of hits allowed, innings, strikeouts and ERA+ while sitting second in WHIP (1.009, trailing just 1.002). He’s third in strikeouts per walk. The last Blue Jays Cy Young winner? The late, great Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in 2003. Ray would also line up to pitch in the wild-card game on October 5.
Ray is scheduled to face the Rays again Monday. He has seen them five times this year, going 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP. Over 7 career meetings, he owns a 2-2 record with a 2.45 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP vs. Tampa Bay.
As for Guerrero, he leads the American League in batting (.321) and homers (46) and is fourth in RBIs (105). Guerrero’s 10 home runs in his last 19 games have also positioned him to do something that only one Blue Jays hitter has done: reach that elusive 50-homer plateau. José Bautista’s club record of 54 home runs, set back in 2010, has seemed out of reach for some time now, but Guerrero still has 15 games remaining in the regular season, though, and with how he’s been swinging the bat, anything is possible. His 6.7 WAR (FanGraphs) is currently the best among all MLB hitters (2nd: Bryce Harper – 6.3).
While Ohtani doesn’t have quite the hitting numbers that Guerrero does, of course Ohtani also pitches. There was talk he might be shut down from pitching the rest of the way with a sore arm but was back out there Sunday and took a no-decision vs. the A’s. He has slumped at the plate in the second half of the season.Expert Picks Ray for Cy Young, Ohtani for MVP
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