Verlander or Porcello? Dombrowski says it's a ‘tossup’

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The current Tiger or the former Tiger — which one deserves the Cy Young Award when it's announced Wednesday night?

"Oh, I don't know," Dave Dombrowski said with a slight chuckle, speaking over the phone while driving to Fenway Park early Wednesday. "It's a tossup. You could debate either one. Interestingly, they're both former No. 1 picks by the Tigers."

Detroit's Justin Verlander and Boston's Rick Porcello are considered the top two candidates for the award in the American League.

Both were drafted during Dombrowski's tenure as Tigers president and general manager — Verlander No. 2 overall in 2004, and Porcello No. 27 overall in 2007.

Verlander is a career-long Tiger (for the time being), while Dombrowski traded Porcello to the Red Sox in December 2014. Last year, after Dombrowski was let go by the Tigers, he was reunited with Porcello, signing on as president of the Red Sox.

So he'll be paying close attention to the winner's announcement, you can count on that.

But he's not bragging about having been the guy who drafted the two of them.

"It's great to be associated with them, with the selections, but it gives me more pride for people like David Chadd (Porcello) and Greg Smith (Verlander). Those guys were the ones," Dombrowski said. "I was the GM, but they were in charge of making those selections.

"It's great to have been associated and involved in their developments, but the drafting of those guys is on their shoulders."

Verlander, 33, finally fully healthy, became an ace pitcher again in 2016, going 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA, and a league-best 1.001 WHIP and 254 strikeouts — his most in a season since 2009, even more than his Cy Young/MVP season of 2011.

Porcello, 27, had the best season of his career, which immediately followed arguably the worst season of his career, his first year in Boston — which had many labeling him a bust after signing a four-year, $82.5-million contract. On a Boston starting rotation that lacked depth, Porcello was 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA and a career-high 189 strikeouts. He received a healthy amount of run support, but that doesn't tell the whole story. He still had a WHIP of 1.009 and a league-best, strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.91.

The third finalist for the award is Corey Kluber of the Indians. Most view him as the likely third-place finisher.

Meanwhile, in the National League, Max Scherzer — whom, remember, Dombrowski acquired for the Tigers from the Diamondbacks, and saw him win a Cy Young in Detroit in 2013 — is a heavy favorite to take home his second Cy Young.

The winners will be announced between 6 and 7 p.m. Wednesday on MLB Network.