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Brewers’ ace Corbin Burnes wins NL Cy Young Award

Milwaukee Brewers' Corbin Burnes reacts after striking out a batter during the seventh inning...
Milwaukee Brewers' Corbin Burnes reacts after striking out a batter during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets on Sept. 25, 2021, in Milwaukee. Burnes won the NL Cy Young Award on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.(AP Photo/Aaron Gash, File)
Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 7:14 PM CST
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(AP) - Toronto left-hander Robbie Ray bounced back from a dismal season to win the AL Cy Young Award and Milwaukee righty Corbin Burnes returned from a bout of COVID-19 to win the NL’s top pitching prize Wednesday.

In the Year of the Pitcher, Burnes led the majors with a 2.43 ERA and Ray topped the AL at 2.84. Both put up impressive strikeout totals, too, helping build their cases with those studying new-era stats and others looking at more traditional numbers.

Burnes edged Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler for the award, with both receiving 12 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Max Scherzer finished third.

Burnes became the first Brewers pitcher to earn the NL honor — Pete Vuckovich in 1982 and Rollie Fingers in 1981 won the award when Milwaukee was still in the American League.

Ray became the first Toronto pitcher to win since the late Roy Halladay in 2003.

Ray got 29 first-place votes. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole got the other top vote and finished second and Chicago White Sox righty Lance Lynn was third.

Burnes was 11-5 and fanned 234 in 167 innings while becoming an All-Star for the NL Central champion Brewers. His innings count was lower than his competitors, owing to him missing two weeks in early May after testing positive for the coronavirus.

In his first season as a full-time starter, Burnes struck out a record 58 before issuing his first walk. He tied the major league mark by fanning 10 in a row against the Cubs in August.

Burnes combined with closer Josh Hader on a no-hitter against Cleveland in September. Burnes struck out 14 over eight innings in that game — it was the record ninth no-hitter in the majors this season, topping the eight set in 1884 when pitchers began throwing overhand.

Burnes was 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA during the virus-shortened season and was hampered by an oblique strain. He came back to lead the majors with 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings this year.

Voting for the awards was completed before the playoffs began. Burnes threw six shutout innings against Atlanta in the NL Division Series and turned 27 later in October.

Ray topped the majors with 248 strikeouts and led the AL with 193 1/3 innings. He went 13-7 in 32 starts and helped keep Toronto in playoff contention until the final weekend.

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