It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
That cliche is becoming the reason why Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber has become the front-runner for the AL Cy Young Award, surpassing Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale.
Corey Kluber with a complete-game shutout. Twenty straight wins for the Indians, ties AL record, and Kluber likely frontrunner for AL Cy.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) September 13, 2017
Kluber notched his fifth complete game and third shutout of the season on Tuesday, which happened to extend the Indians' winning streak to 20 games, which ties the American League record held by the 2002 Oakland A's.
That was a microcosm of what Kluber has done since coming back from a lower back injury in June. In Kluber's last 20 starts he's posted a 1.77 ERA and has 162 strikeouts over his last 147.1 innings.
AL ERA: 1. Kluber 2.44 2. Sale 2.76. WHIP: 1. Kluber 0.87 2. Sale 0.95. K: 1. Sale 278 2. Kluber 243. xFIP: 1. Kluber 2.48 2. Sale 2.69— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) September 13, 2017
On the season as a whole, Sale still leads Kluber in innings pitched (195.2 to 184.2) and strikeouts (278 to 243), but the Indians right-hander has closed the gap in those two categories and leads Sale in ERA (2.44 to 2.78) and WHIP (0.87 to 0.95).
Sale certainly deserves serious consideration, but he's faded in the second half, especially in the month of August, and in his last eight starts he holds a 3.99 ERA.
Kluber has clearly been in the best pitcher in the game over the last four months, and with the way he's leading his team during this incredible winning streak in the final month of the regular season, it's getting his impressive season more notoriety, which always factors in the voters decision.
Sale seemed to have had his first ever Cy Young in the bag after going eight straight starts with double-digit strikeouts earlier in the season, but Kluber has stepped in and is on his way to his second career Cy Young Award.