Santana had breakout season; Schilling got title

Updated: November 11, 2004, 1:47 PM ET

One enjoyed a breakout season while the other did exactly what his team expected.

Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins and Curt Schilling of the Boston Red Sox are the leading contenders for the American League Cy Young Award, which will be announced this afternoon.

After finishing in a tie for seventh place in last year's voting, Santana had a sensational 2004 season, going 20-6 with one shutout and an AL-leading 2.61 ERA in 34 starts for the Central Division champion Twins.

The Venezuelan lefthander, who also led the junior circuit with 265 strikeouts, lost four straight starts from May 18 to June 3, dropping his record to 2-4. But he went 18-2 the rest of the way, including 13 consecutive wins to finish the season.

Santana, whose last loss came on July 11, allowed more than two earned runs just once in his last 22 starts and lasted at least seven innings 18 times. The 25-year-old reached double digits in strikeouts 12 times, including a season-high 14 against Baltimore on September 19.

The National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player in 1993 with Philadelphia and co-MVP of the 2001 World Series for Arizona, Schilling was brought to the AL by Boston with hopes of leading the Red Sox to the postseason and their first world championship in 86 years.

The 37-year-old righthander delivered during the regular season, leading the AL with 21 wins and recording three complete games and a 3.26 ERA in 32 starts. Schilling, who began his career in the AL with the Baltimore Orioles, reached the 20-win plateau for the third time in four years.

Like Santana, Schilling was strong down the stretch, going 8-0 in his final nine starts and striking out 14 in eight scoreless innings vs. Baltimore on September 21 without getting a decision.

Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees will probably receive the most votes among relievers. Rivera had another terrific season for the Yankees, going 4-2 with a career-high 53 saves in 57 opportunities to lead the majors.

Oakland Athletics lefthander Mark Mulder, three-time winner Pedro Martinez of Boston and closers Francisco Cordero of the Texas Rangers and Joe Nathan of the Twins should also receive votes.

Mulder rolled to a 17-4 record before stumbling down the stretch, losing his last four decisions. The southpaw did notch five complete games and one shutout in 33 starts.

Martinez, who won the NL Cy Young Award with Montreal in 1997 before capturing the honors with the Red Sox in 1999 and 2000, went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and one shutout.

Cordero set a club record for the Rangers with 49 saves in 54 chances, while Nathan coverted 44 of 47 opportunities in his first year as a closer.