In 2009, CC Sabathia had what many considered a Cy Young season. The big lefty finished 4th, despite going 19–8 and leading the New York Yankees to a World Series title.
CC received a lot of run support that year. He was 13–0 in 15 starts with a 2.83 ERA when the Yankees scored 6 runs or more. He was 5–6 with a 3.95 ERA when the Yanks scored 3–5 runs for him and 1–2 3.42 ERA in 4 starts when getting 2 runs or less.
Zack Grienke won the CY Young that year at 16–8 with a 2.16 ERA.
Grienke was 7–0 with a 1.56 ERA in 7 starts with 6+ runs of support. He was 6–3 with a 3.15 ERA when getting 3–5 runs of support and 3–5 with a 1.47 ERA when he got 2 runs or less.
Grienke out-pitched CC by analytical meters and certainly deserved the award. But with all that run support, CC more often than Grienke was “pitching to the scoreboard”. If your team is up by 6 runs in the second inning, you are pitching to contact, trying to induce pop ups and grounders. You aren’t painting corners, you’re pounding the zone and are prone to giving up hits and Home runs.
In 2019, Domingo German has won 16 of his 20 starts, and the 27-year-old has emerged as the Yankees ace.
Justin Verlander looks like the obvious Cy Young favorite, but despite his high run support, German should at least be in the conversation. While the argument against German is that he’s faced weaker competition, (9–1 2.97 ERA against sub .500 teams 7–1 5.04 ERA against .500+) and received lots of run support, the numbers are closer than you think.
Justin Verlander is 9–2 with a 2.54 ERA in 14 starts where his team scores 3–5 runs. He’s 5–0 with a 3.91 ERA when his team scores 6 or more runs.
Verlander has allowed 4ER or more 6 times this season, German has only given up 4ER 4 times.
Domingo German is 7–0 since coming off the IL on July 3rd, and the Yankees have won all 8 of his starts.
German is 6–0 in 7 starts with a 2.06 ERA when he gets 3–5 runs of support. He’s 9–0 in 11 starts with a 5.03 ERA when he gets 6+ runs of support. That’s pitching to the scoreboard.
German has been better than Verlander in close games. I’m not saying he’s a better pitcher, or having a better season, or that he’ll win the Cy Young, but if he continues to pitch like he had, Domingo German should be in the conversation.