ATLANTA, Ga. – Three of the best starters in Major League Baseball hail from the ASUN Conference. Corey Kluber (Stetson/Cleveland Indians), Jacob deGrom (Stetson/New York Mets) and Chris Sale (FGCU/Boston Red Sox) are all in the running for the Cy Young in their respective leagues. Kluber and Sale have been the aces of two division champions, while deGrom just wrapped up one of the best seasons in baseball history.
Kluber led the Indians to 91 wins and their third straight AL Central Division title. The Stetson product posted a career high 20 wins to go along with a 2.89 ERA, 222 strikeouts, 215.0 innings, and led the majors in complete games. In fact, Kluber is just one of four AL pitchers (Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino) to be top-ten in wins, ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched and WHIP. This season, Kluber was also named to his third consecutive All-Star game. Kluber, the reigning AL Cy Young Winner, has put himself in position to earn the honor again and at the very least should finish top-five in the voting, which would make it four top-five finishes in five seasons, winning the award 2014 and 2017.
Despite missing a month, Sale put together another fantastic season for the best team in baseball. The Lakeland, Fla. native went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, 237 strikeouts and just 34 walks in 158.0 innings of work. His 237 strikeouts ranked third in the AL. Sale's season was highlighted by dominant stretches, including one where he went 75.1 consecutive innings without allowing a home run. His 6.5 WAR leads all American League pitchers for the second-straight season. Sale has finished in the top-five in the Cy Young for the last five seasons and has a case to finish there once again this season.
deGrom is all but a lock for the NL Cy Young award after making his final start last Wednesday. The Stetson alum finished off his 2018 campaign with eight shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves to lower his ERA to an MLB leading 1.70. Due to a lack of run support deGrom finished with a record of 10-9, but the record doesn't tell the whole story. Aside from his microscopic ERA, he finished the year with 269 strikeouts over 217.0 innings. He became just the second pitcher since ERA became an official stat in 1913 to post a sub 2.00 ERA, have more than 250 strikeouts and walk fewer than 50 batters joining Pedro Martinez, who accomplished the feat in 2000. He also became the third pitcher ever since the mound was lowered in 1969 to make 30 starts and post a sub 2.00 ERA, joining Dwight Gooden (1985) and Zack Greinke (2015). deGrom went an MLB record 29-straight starts allowing three runs or less. deGrom also led all MLB pitchers in WAR with a mark of 8.8. With this historically great season, deGrom has not only put himself squarely in the conversation for the NL Cy Young but the MVP as well.