NEW YORK (AP) — Jake Arrieta posted one final win, perhaps against his most formidable competition yet.
The Chicago Cubs righty aced out Dodgers stars Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw to earn the NL Cy Young Award by a comfortable margin Wednesday.
“There was some anxiety involved,” Arrieta said on a conference call.
The former TCU and Plano East High School star topped the majors with 22 victories, boosted by a record 0.75 ERA after the All-Star break. He acknowledged the super stats piled up by his Los Angeles rivals spurred him.
“Deep down inside, we think we can catch them, do a little bit better,” he said.
Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award, easily beating David Price.
Keuchel led the AL in wins, going 20-8 and helping Houston reach the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
“For years to come, we’re going to be contenders,” the bearded Keuchel said.
Voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America was conducted before the postseason.
Keuchel then started the playoffs by pitching six shutout innings to win at Yankee Stadium in the AL wild-card game. The next day, Arrieta threw a five-hit shutout at Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game.
In a tight race between three very worthy contenders, Arrieta received 17 of 30 first-place votes and 169 points. Greinke drew 10 first-place votes and 147 points. Kershaw got the other three firsts and 101 points.
Arrieta went 22-6, including 11-0 in his last 12 starts in pushing the Cubs into the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The 29-year-old had a 1.77 ERA, struck out 236 and pitched a no-hitter.
Arrieta was 6-5 with a 3.40 ERA after walking six in five innings during a loss to Cleveland in mid-June. In his final 20 regular-season starts, he went 16-1 and permitted only 14 earned runs.
During that span, he also hit two home runs while giving up just two. No starter has equaled what he did in the second half.
“I see the numbers on TV, people bring it up to me quite a bit,” he said. “It’s kind of amazing to think about it.”
Arrieta was the first Cubs pitcher to win the honor since Greg Maddux in 1992.
The Cubs won a major postseason award for the third straight day. Kris Bryant was the NL Rookie of the Year and Joe Maddon was the NL Manager of the Year.
“It looks like we’re going to have a pretty bright future,” Arrieta said.
Seattle in 2001 was the last team to take any three BBWAA awards in the same year, when Ichiro Suzuki was the AL MVP and best rookie and Lou Piniella was the top manager.
The last NL team to win three was Atlanta in 1991 when Terry Pendleton was the MVP, Tom Glavine took the Cy Young and Bobby Cox won the manager award.
The MVP awards will be announced Thursday.
Greinke posted a 1.66 ERA that was the lowest in the majors since Maddux in 1995. Greinke went 19-3, fanned 200 and had a scoreless streak of 45 2-3 innings.
Since the creation of the Cy Young Award in 1956, the only qualifying pitcher with a lower ERA who did not win was Luis Tiant in 1968. El Tiante went 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA for Cleveland but was beaten out by Detroit’s Denny McLain (31-6, 1.96).
Kershaw had won three of the previous four NL Cy Youngs, and was the NL MVP last year. He struck out 301, most in the majors since 2002, and went 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA for the NL West champions.
Featuring a dominant sinker and a sharp slider, the 27-year-old Keuchel had a 2.48 ERA and 216 strikeouts.
“Got to a point where the confidence was at an all-time high,” he said.
Keuchel garnered 22 first-place votes and 186 points. Price drew eight first-place votes and 143 points for his split season with Detroit and Toronto. Oakland’s Sonny Gray finished third.
Keuchel especially excelled at home. He went 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 18 starts at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park.
Price went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA and 225 strikeouts. Traded from Detroit to Toronto in late July, he was a key reason the Blue Jays made their first playoff appearance since 1993.
Price won the 2012 AL Cy Young with Tampa Bay and has finished second in the voting twice.
Keuchel became the first Houston pitcher to win since Roger Clemens in 2004, and the first to do it since the Astros joined the AL in 2013.
Keuchel started the All-Star game this year and recently won a Gold Glove award.