OAKLAND – A compelling battle of aces is on tap Friday night at the Coliseum, as A’s right-hander Sonny Gray matches up against Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel.
Their teams couldn’t be in more polar-opposite positions. But individually, Gray and Keuchel are two of the leading candidates for the American League Cy Young award.
“It’s two of the premier pitchers, not only in this league, but in all of baseball,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
The prevailing thought seems to be that Keuchel, 27, is the current front-runner. He’s tied for the league lead with 13 wins, and he’s pitching for a first-place club. But beyond Keuchel’s 13-11 advantage in wins, take a look at how similar their stats are through 22 starts for each:
Gray: 2.12 (2nd in AL)
Keuchel: 2.35 (3rd)
Keuchel: 157 (2nd)
Gray: 152 2/3 (5th)
Gray: 0.98 (1st)
Keuchel: 0.99 (T-2nd)
OPPONENTS’ BATTING AVERAGE
Gray: .200 (1st)
Keuchel: .207 (4th)
Astros lefty (and former Athletic) Scott Kazmir, the only AL starter with a lower ERA than either man, was asked if he can appreciate such a matchup.
“Just as a baseball fan, you can enjoy it, sure,” Kazmir said. “It’s two of the top guys in the league, young guys as well. It’s always exciting.”
The fact that the Astros are in first place and the A’s are in last could obviously work against Gray, 25. But Melvin pointed out that Gray’s built a national reputation through the high-profile games that he’s pitched in, including a Game 5 battle against Justin Verlander in the 2013 ALDS.
“You can’t overlook the consistency and the performance he’s given us,” Melvin said. “On top of that, he’s got quite a name for himself too.”