Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray likely won the Cy Young Award without taking the mound

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Robbie Ray didn’t take the mound on Wednesday night, but he did win the Cy Young Award.

It was José Berríos who started for the Blue Jays and had a perfect match in the fifth inning, but his rotation teammate could have come out of the game with the biggest prize.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is Ray’s closest contender for the end-of-year prize for his pitching prowess, and the Jays knocked him down, although their lead didn’t last and they had to come back to win on Bo Bichette’s spectacular home run in the eighth round. off Clay Holmes.

Cole allowed five runs on nine hits over his six innings of work, including seven for extra goals (two homers and five doubles). With the Yankees’ seventh-inning rally against Tim Mayza his first failed save since May 16, Cole found himself without a decision and will end the season at 16-8 when it comes to wins and losses.

The right-hander’s ERA, which was 2.73 at the start of September, climbed to 3.23, pushing him down to third in the league behind Oakland’s Ray and Chris Bassitt. His WHIP jumped to 1.059, which also slipped him behind Bassitt for third place in the league behind leader Ray.

Cole struck out six to give him 243 over the season, and his six innings increased his tally to 181 1/3. Both numbers follow Ray’s, and the Jays left-hander, who also leads the league in both categories, still has a start to make. He will get the ball on Thursday night, trying to launch the Jays to a series victory.

Ray, who leads the league with a 2.68 ERA, could allow 10 runs in three innings of work on Thursday and still win the league ERA title.

Bichette, who has scored twice and became the fourth different Jay with 100 RBIs this season, didn’t think beating Cole was helping Ray for Cy Young, but that’s because he thinks his teammate already has it. blocked.

“We all believe Robbie deserves this award,” Bichette said after her big night, “so we’re going to try to compete as best we can against whoever is out there. We just had some good sticks today (against Cole) and scored a few points.

Marcus Semien also avoided any discussion of post-game rewards, given the stakes in the playoffs.

“I know Robbie isn’t thinking about (winning a Cy Young) right now,” said Semien, whose first-inning homerun against Cole was his 44th of the season, a major-league record for a runner-up. main purpose. “He’s thinking about who the Yankees are and how to attack them. I think he’s still very lucky (at Cy Young).

Ray might not think about it right now, but we sure are. It’s been a sensational season for the unexpected ace of the Jays, a 2017 star who was never able to put his amazing stuff together until this year.

When the Jays picked him up at the trade deadline last season, he led the major leagues in walks, having delivered 31 free passes in 31 innings in his first seven starts with Arizona.

This is not a printing error. One run per run with an average of less than five runs per start. Of course, that is nothing like the guy so many Jays fans have fallen in love with this season.

This season, Ray, who turns 30 on Friday, has hit career highs for innings pitched and strikeouts and career lows in ERA and WHIP. A pitcher who walked no less than 3.7 batters per nine innings, hitting a career-worst mark of 7.8 last season, has walked just 2.3 batters per nine this year.

It’s a trajectory that is no different from Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.

Yes, the Big Unit is a physical six-foot-11 monster, which has given them additional and very unique challenges in trying to deliver consistent, repeatable delivery, but they haven’t had their first big season before either. the year he turned 30.

Johnson, perhaps the best left-handed pitcher of all time, was first star in 1990, at the age of 26, but then retreated for a few seasons, leading the major leagues in the running both years all by racking up strikeouts.

During his 29-year season, he stopped walking people around, continued to cross them out and was second in the Cy Young vote. Two years later, Johnson won the first of his five Cy Young Awards.

In his 29-year season, Ray will win the Cy Young, a few years earlier than his mentor with the Diamondbacks, and the blows his teammates dealt to his main competition on Wednesday night sealed the deal.

Mike Wilner is a Toronto-based baseball columnist for The Star and host of the “Deep Left Field” baseball podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @wilnerness

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