For some weeks now the Rays PR department has been sending updates on David Price's season to all the members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, with the idea that those members who vote for the 2012 American League Cy Young Award will have all the information needed to make what the Rays expect to be the correct call.
Price's numbers are staggering:
A major league-low 2.58 ERA after Friday's games, a share of the league-lead in wins with 18, two earned runs or less in 21 starts, most in the league, one earned or less in 11 of his last 21 starts.
Naturally, Price's teammates would like to see No. 14 receive the award.
"He's going to get my vote, there's no doubt about it," James Shields said Thursday.
Then the other guy was mention, and Shields paused.
Oh yeah, the Rays have a second Cy Young Award candidate on their pitching staff – Fernando Rodney, and the closer is having a season for the ages.
On Friday, the Rays PR staff included Rodney's numbers along with Price's stats in the emails to the BBWAA members.
Rodney is second in the American League in saves to Baltimore's Jim Johnson, 46 to 43 prior to Saturday's game. But he is first in the major leagues with a 95.6 save percentage, having converted all by two of his save opportunities.
His ERA of 0.66 is summed up in one word by teammate J.P. Howell: "Sick."
That's five earned runs in 68 1/3 innings pitched.
Rodney has also allowed only 39 hits. He's walked 14 and struck out 68. His WHIP is 0.78.
"He's been so good sometimes he looks like he's bored out there," Howell said.
Only four relieve pitchers have won the AL Cy Young Award – New York's Sparky Lyle (1977), Milwaukee's Rollie Fingers (1981), Detroit's Willie Hernandez (1984) and Oakland's Dennis Eckersley (1991).
When you stack Rodney with those four, he has the lowest ERA, lowest opponent's batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
He is the only one with a sub-1.00 ERA among the four.
"He's pitching better than I've seen any closer pitch since I've been up in the big leagues," Shields said.
But is Rodney's season good enough for him to be voted the top pitcher in the American League?
That only nine relievers in both leagues have won Cy Young Awards suggests it is not.
Voters tend to vote for starting pitchers, even though a closer impacts more games than a starter. Nailing down the ninth inning and the occasional four- or five-out save, as tough as it is, doesn't standup to the workhorse who throws more than 200 innings, which Price will do again this season.
ESPN baseball reporter Jayson Stark tried to get the BBWAA to add another postseason award for relief pitchers and wanted it named after Hall of Fame baseball writer Jerome Holtzman, who came up with the save statistic.
Stark's reasoning was Mariano Rivera, as great as he is, never received a BBWAA postseason award. Though I backed Stark, the proposal was voted down. The BBWAA did expand the numbers of names on the ballot from three to five, which means closers will receive more votes but not the award.
And that means Rodney's season will begin to fade into history after the season.