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Former Bison Coach Carl Willis Keeps Churning out Cy Young Pitchers

November 11, 2020 - International League (IL) - Buffalo Bisons News Release


The Cy Young Award express keeps chugging along for the 'Big Train.'

Former Bisons pitch coach Carl Willis hasn't thrown a pitch in the Major Leagues since 1995, but he continues to be the man behind the some of the best single-season pitching campaigns in recent memory. On Wednesday, Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber became the FIFTH pitcher to win a Cy Young Award with Willis as their pitching coach.

The quartet of winners include a pair of former Bisons in C.C. Sabathia (2007) and Cliff Lee (2008) during Willis' first stint as the Tribe's pitching coach. Felix Hernandez won the 2010 Cy Young when Willis was in his first of four seasons as the pitching coach in Seattle. Willis was then the pitching coach for the Red Sox for two seasons, including Rick Porcello's 2016 Cy Young season.

Willis served as the Bisons pitching coach in 2001 and again in 2002 as the Herd won 178 games, the most in any two-season span in the club's modern era history. He began his Major League coaching career a season later, serving under Eric Wedge in Cleveland from 2003-2009.

From there, the Cy Young awards kept coming.

In 2007, Sabathia posted a 19-7 record and a 3.21 ERA in an American League-best 34 starts in 241.0 innings of work as the Indians made it all the way to the seventh game of the ALCS before falling to the Red Sox. A season later, Lee led the A.L. with 22 wins (22-3) and a 2.54 ERA to coast to the Cy Young Award with 24 out of 28 first place votes.

In 2010, King Felix was an easy choice for the award as Hernandez had an A.L.-best 2.27 ERA and six complete games for the Mariners. Porcello was 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 33 games pitching under Willis with the 2016 Red Sox.

Willis' latest Cy Young Award comes with Bieber's dominating performance in the shortened-2020 season. In 12 starts with Cleveland this year, Bieber was 8-1 with a razor-thin 1.63 ERA and an amazing 122 strikeouts in only 77.1 innings of work.

Willis pitched nine seasons in the big leagues with the Tigers, Reds, Twins and White Sox from 1984-1995 and won a World Series title with Minnesota in 1991.


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