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Are the Twins really on a Cy Young binge?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks ago during a Twins-Mariners game, Felix Hernandez was shutting down the Twins in a classic King Felix gem. Twins TV announcers Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven noted that this was not the first time the Twins had gone up against a former Cy Young winner in the 2014 season. In fact, it was the seventh game the Twins had played with an opposing Cy Young winner on the mound. Since then they've tacked an eighth onto the list. Here's the complete list of those games:

That's a pretty impressive list of pitchers. Bremer and Blyleven thought that this was an almost unprecedented amount, an extreme outlier in the schedule. But how unusual was this barrage of heralded pitchers? Using baseball-reference.com, I looked back at every Cy Young winner since Don Newcombe won the first award in 1956 and tallied the number of games they pitched against every team in every season after they received the award.

Here are the teams who have faced the most former Cy Young winners:

  1. 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 11 faced
  2. 1997 Baltimore Orioles, 10 faced
  3. 1998 Montreal Expos, 10 faced
  4. 2008 Chicago Cubs, 10 faced
  5. 17 teams with 9 faced

While the Twins will probably end the season tied for third all-time on this list, it should be noted that every team with nine or more Cy's faced have come since 1997. While Minnesota's mark is high, the average for all teams in 2013 was almost seven.

I also looked at which teams have played the most games against Cy Young pitchers (multiple games against the same pitcher count):

  1. 1973 Montreal Expos, 24 games
  2. 1974 Boston Red Sox, 24 games
  3. 1975 Detroit Tigers, 24 games
  4. 1975 Chicago White Sox, 23 games
  5. 1975 California Angels, 23 games
  6. 4 teams with 22 each

The Twins are pretty far away from joining this leaderboard, but there's still hope. Having Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in the division certainly helps. The Twins also stand to tack on at least one more former winner when the Yankees come to town for a four-game series over July 4, if C.C. Sabathia is back and pitching (which is questionable). But only three teams have cracked 20 since the turn of the century.

At any rate, although their schedule has been daunting, the Twins are not facing an historically difficult pitching slate. But they are seeing a slightly higher than average number of Cy Young award-winning pitchers compared to the rest of the league.

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