Starters, relievers vie for pitching honors; Martin's managing status

Most every baseball fan knows that the annual Cy Young Award is supposed to be given to the season's best pitcher in each league. The problem is that the sports writers who do the voting can seldom agree on anything; some even refusing to consider a relief pitcher, no matter how many saves he has. Their theory is that the trophy is for starters, not firemen who sometimes get called out of the bullpen four or five times a week.

Anyway, a voting controversy is brewing in the American League, where ''submarine throwing'' Dan Quisenberry of the Kansas City Royals has already set a major league record with 40 saves. Quisenberry's team, however, hasn't been in the pennant race since July 4. Meanwhile 21-game winner LaMarr Hoyt, the league's top starter, throws for the Chicago White Sox, who have already won their division. Besides Hoyt, other starters sure to gather support are Richard Dotson of the White Sox, Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees, Scott McGregor of the Baltimore Orioles, and Jack Morris of the Detroit Tigers.

Actually, the National League also has a relief pitcher who is a strong Cy Young candidate in Jesse Orosco of the New York Mets, whose high number of saves accounts for almost half his team's victories this year. At this point, though, the N. L. winner is more likely to be either Steve Rogers of the Montreal Expos or John Denny of the Philadelphia Phillies. That decision probably will hinge on which of these two teams wins its division title. That is, unless the Pittsburgh Pirates beat out both of them.

The National League's sentimental candidate is right-hander Mario Soto of the Cincinnati Reds, a 16-game winner who has pitched l7 complete games for a last-place ball club. Soto has also struck out more than twice as many hitters as he's walked. And in several of Mario's losses, the Reds haven't given him a working margin of more than one or two runs. Martin's job in jeopardy again

As the 1983 major league season winds down to its final days, several managers reportedly are in trouble. Billy Martin is on the edge again in New York, where Yankee owner George Steinbrenner is said to be considering firing Martin and replacing him with veteran third baseman Graig Nettles. Rene Lachemann has also been mentioned as a possibility. Martin's personality difficulties not only extend to his players but also to some of his coaches. Steinbrenner's biggest complaint, though, is that the Yankees had too much talent to trail so far behind Baltimore.

Meanwhile in San Diego, Manager Dick Williams has several players down on him for criticizing them in public. Williams has even pointed out that the Padres had a better record without Steve Garvey than they did with him. However, San Diego's front office apparently is willing to live with Williams for another year and see what happens.

The jury is also out on interim Manager Frank Howard of the New York Mets, who has actually done a pretty good job under less than ideal conditions, Russ Nixon of the Cincinnati Reds, and Frank Robinson of the San Francisco Giants. Even if Montreal doesn't finish first in the N. L. East, Bill Virdon should return. Tidbits from around the majors

* There are plenty of reasons why the California Angels skidded so far off the top in the American League West this season, but management attributes the demise to 57 major and minor injuries, l5 of their players having spent time on the club's 2l-day disabled list. The Angels are only 23-47 since the All-Star break, when they were only two games off the top, and they don't know what to do about Reggie Jackson, whose bat has turned into wet spaghetti. To help take some of the load off general manager Buzzie Bavasi, the club has hired former Angel Manager Gene Mauch as director of player personnel.

* From May 26, when the Chicago White Sox had a dismal 16-24 record and there were rumors that Manager Tony La Russa might be fired, the Pale Hose have played .667 baseball in winning the A. L. West. That was the day La Russa moved Carlton Fisk to the No. 2 spot in his batting order and veteran Greg Luzinski and rookie Ron Kittle began to unlimber their home run power. ''The object, '' said La Russa, ''was to get us so far ahead in our division that the manager couldn't foul it up!''

* Although Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli inherited a ton of talent when Earl Weaver retired, he has wisely stuck with the same platooning system that worked well for Weaver. The four players who alternate in left field (Jim Dwyer, Gary Roenicke, Tito Landrum, and John Lowen-stein) have combined for 33 homers and 120 runs batted in. Baltimore has also gotten a big lift from rookie pitcher Mike Boddicker, who has won 14 games since he was recalled from the minors on May 5.

* Rumors have it that if the New York Yankees don't re-sign free-agent relief ace Goose Gossage soon, they will trade him to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with catcher Rick Cerone for pitcher Steve Howe and catcher Steve Yeager. The Yankees also supposedly have had it with outfielder Steve Kemp, whose failure to generate more power with his bat may get him a trip to the National League.

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