(Reuters) - Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta won a tight race to become the National League Cy Young winner on Wednesday, while lefty Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros earned the vote as the American League’s top pitcher.
Arrieta, 29, edged out Los Angeles Dodgers team mates Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke for the coveted award after going a league-best 22-6 and posting a 1.77 ERA that was second only to Greinke (1.66).
The ultra-consistent Keuchel went 20-8 with three complete games and a 2.48 ERA in 33 starts. He led all AL pitchers in wins and innings pitched (232) to gain the nod over 2012 winner David Price of the Toronto Blue Jays, by 186 points to 143.
“It’s something I definitely never expected,” Keuchel, the third Astro to win the award after Mike Scott (1986) and Roger Clemens (2004), said after the result was announced on the MLB Network.
“Just playing the game is good enough for me and just to be in the same category as Sonny (Gray) and David was special in its own right.”
Keuchel, 27, collected 22 of the 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America while Price earned the remaining eight.
Arrieta, red-hot in the second half of the season when he posted a 0.75 ERA after the All-Star break, earned 17 first-place votes for 169 points to edge out Greinke (10 first-place votes for 147 points).
“I’m a little relieved honestly, to finally know how it played out,” said Arrieta after being showered with celebratory champagne.
“I have to say thanks to all the guys I continue to compete against year-in and year-out to make me try and take my game to the next level. All the hard work’s been worth it.”
Arrieta also paid tribute to his Cubs team mate Kris Bryant, winner of the NL Rookie of the Year award on Monday, and Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was named NL Manager of the Year on Tuesday.
“I was really excited watching him and Kris win those awards and to be a part of that with those guys, and to do what we did as an organization this year is really incredibly special,” said Arrieta. “It’s something that we just look to build on.”
The Cubs finished the 2015 regular season with 97 wins, 24 more than in 2014, for the third-best record in Major League Baseball and a wild card berth in the playoffs.
Dodgers right-hander Greinke, 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA, finished second in the NL voting ahead of his team mate Kershaw, 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA.
AL runner-up Price, who won the Cy Young Award in 2012 while with the Tampa Bay Rays, went 18-5 this season with an AL-best 2.45 ERA and 225 strikeouts in 220-1/3 innings.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue