2019 Cy Young Award winners for both the American and National League were announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Wednesday night, with New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom winning his second straight Cy Young for the senior circuit, and Houston Astros righty Justin Verlander also winning his second and first since 2011 for the junior circuit.
Sticking with the American League side of things in this award race, Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was the only Boston hurler to receive any Cy Young votes this year, as he placed sixth by receiving three fourth-place votes and two fifth-place votes, good for eight total points.
Among the AL pitchers to finish between Verlander and Rodriguez were Houston’s Gerrit Cole, Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, and Texas’ Lance Lynn. Chicago’s Lucas Giolito and Texas’ Mike Minor rounded up the ballot, finishing in seventh and eighth place respectively.
Rodriguez came into this past season with a goal of pitching 200 innings and racking up 200 strikeouts, both of which would have been career-highs for the 26-year-old.
Throughout spring training, Sox manager Alex Cora seemed to work Rodriguez the hardest out of any Boston starting pitcher, even after the rotation pitched deep into October the year before.
“He’s old enough, ” Cora said of Rodriguez following a rough outing against the Mets back in March. “He’s been in the league for a long time. It’s time for him to step up.”
And step up Rodriguez did, as he posted a 3.81 ERA and 3.86 FIP to go along with a career-best 213 punchouts over 34 starts and 203 1/3 innings of work.
The Venezuela native was by far the best option the Red Sox had in the starting pitching department by the time the 2019 campaign came to its waining stages, so much so that he was just one winning decision away from 20 on the year headed into his final start against the Baltimore Orioles on September 29th.
It may have not happened due to events that transpired later in that contest, but that did not stop Rodriguez from putting up seven strong frames of work to end his season on a solid note.
“We’re very proud of him. 3.81 ERA and 200-plus innings,” Cora said of Rodriguez’s impressive season following his club’s 2019 finale. “I don’t feel that he’s going to be satisfied…try to improve a few things, the breaking ball is going to be part of the mix…We’re very proud of him.”
Heading into the 2020 season, Rodriguez is projected to earn $9.5 million in his third year of arbitration eligibility.
Depending on the statuses of Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi this offseason, Rodriguez could find himself at the top of Boston’s starting rotation going into spring training.