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Can Justin Verlander Still Win The Cy Young?

While listening to the Tigers' sixth straight loss to open the 2008 season, I was struck by the thought that my pre-season CY Young pick, Justin Verlander, was about to open year with two losses in this, his first CY young award-winning season.  That got me to thinking if Verlander's chances are doomed with an 0-2 record to dig out from under.

Using Baseball Reference, I looked at the game logs of each of the past 94 Cy Young awarding winning seasons to see if Verlander would need a historic season to come back from an 0-2 hole to win the Cy Young.  Starting with Don Newcombe's inaugural Cy Young season in 1956, I began to think Verlander would need to set a precedent to win the award in 2008.

Then I got to 1969.  Mike Cuellar won the award after begining the season at 0-2 (40 starts).  OK, Verlander would be the first to do it in 38 years!  That is history enough for the vast majority of people.  (Read those my age of younger).

And that sense of almost-history-in-the-making lasted until the game log of Steve Carlton's 1982 campaign (38 starts).  He started 0-4!  Needless to say any sense of dramatic history-setting efforts by Verlander went, "Ka-poof."

A mere four years later, Mike Scott began 1986 at 0-2 (37 starts).  Then Roger Clemens won his second CY Young after an 0-2 start to the 1987 campaign (36 starts).

More than a decade and a half would pass before Roy Halladay went 0-2 to start the 2003 season and win the award in the American League (36 starts).  In 2006, Johan Santana went 0-3 to begin what would turn out to be his penultimate season with the Minnesota Twins (34 starts).

Geez I can't even adjust Verlander's 0-2 record to reflect the dimished number of starts today's pitchers make each season.  Johan started 0-3 in 34 starts!

While a mere six of the 94 Cy Youngs awarded since 1956 have gone to pitchers who began 0-2 or worse, there is no reason for Detroit Tigers fans, and fantasy website prognosticators, to lose hope that Justin Verlander can still win this year's CY Young.  He need only beat long odds and not set history!