Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona is a leading Cy Young Award candidate with the best ERA in the American League and 17 wins, which is tied for fourth-best. Devil Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir is in a position to become the Major League strikeout leader. Both 23-year-olds helped their cases this past week and were named the Bank of America Presents the American League Co-Players of the Week for the week ending Sept. 16. Carmona's first award came after a week in which he went 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings, as Cleveland continues to hold on to the AL Central lead. On Sept. 10, Carmona allowed one run on three hits over seven innings against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. He followed that performance with eight innings against the Royals on Sept. 15 during which he allowed just three hits with nine strikeouts. It was his 17th victory and dropped his ERA to an AL-best 3.07. Since the All-Star break, Carmona has also posted a Major League-leading 2.19 ERA.
"It's fun to watch him go out there and keep getting better," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. As for the Cy Young Award, Carmona said, "I'm not thinking about that." While the Indians are in the midst of a pennant race, the Devil Rays aren't in the running to play in October. Still, Rays ace Kazmir is finishing the season strong. In two road starts last week, Kazmir went 2-0, tossing 13 scoreless innings with 21 strikeouts. He ranks third in the Major Leagues with 220 strikeouts, five behind leader Jake Peavy of San Diego. Kazmir, who also garnered Player of the Week honors last season, pitched seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts on Sept. 10 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. In his latest start, on Sept. 15 at Seattle, he threw six scoreless innings, allowing three hits while notching 11 strikeouts. It marked Kazmir's 35th win with Tampa Bay, a club record.
Kazmir, though, has one goal heading towards the final two weeks of the season."The 200-inning mark is something I really want to shoot for," said Kazmir, who has 195 2/3 innings for the season. Tourneau, the world's largest watch store, will supply Carmona and Kazmir each with an engraved timepiece recognizing their achievement. Other candidates were sluggers Vladimir Guerrero (.346 average, three home runs, 10 RBIs) of the Angels, Aubrey Huff (.591 average, two doubles, a triple and three RBIs) of the Orioles and David Ortiz (.450 average, two doubles, three home runs and eight RBIs) of the Red Sox, along with Athletics teammates Joe Blanton (2-0, 3.21 ERA, seven strikeouts) and Huston Street (four saves and four strikeouts in four games).
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.