The National League Cy Young race is as close as ever. There are many possible candidates and nearly all of them are on contenders. Will the Cardinals pitchers cancel each other out? Could Cliff Lee make a run if he stays perfect? Here are some of the leading candidates and darkhorses in the National League Cy Young race.
Chris Carpenter – He’s currently 14-3 with a 2.16 ERA this season for the St. Louis Cardinals. You have to believe that he is the front runner for the award at this point. His team is murdering the ball and the run support is definitely there. He doesn’t have the flashy strikeout total (111 Ks) that some of the award winners have had in the past, but he is just consistent. He did miss five or six stars near the beginning of the year due to injury, but if he can keep his ERA at his current level, that is what sets him apart right now. His one downfall at this point is that he hasn’t even pitched 150 innings yet, he needs to get near 200 by the end of the year.
Adam Wainwright – Wainwright is currently leading the league in wins and his current record stands at 15-7. He has been helped by the mid-season additions on offense. The only reason he’s in the discussion is because he does have a nice ERA (2.61) and the wins are high, but his Batting Average Against is good, but not great at .248. If the Cardinals keep winning, Wainwright would have to stay perfect to win the award.
Tim Lincecum – Last year’s Cy Young winner is at it again this year. He’s striking guys out at an alarming rate and has amassed 214 strikeouts in 185 innings this year. He is currently 12-4 and has 21 quality starts. The San Francisco Giants aren’t giving him as much run support as the Cardinals give Wainwright and Carpenter. He has been un-hittable this year, but with only 12 wins, he needs at least 17 to win the award again, especially if the Cardinals pitchers get near 20.
Matt Cain – If I were to compare the Giants pitchers with the Cardinals, Cain gets over-shadowed by Lincecum, like Wainwright gets overlooked because of Carpenter. Cain’s stuff isn’t flashy, but he is efficient. He is also 12-4 and currently has a Batting Average Against is .227. If he was on any other team, he would probably be their ace. He also sits in the same boat as his teammate, he needs to win at least 5 more games this year to overtake one of the Cardinals pitchers.
Jason Marquis – The Colorado Rockies are on another run, just like they did a few years ago. Aaron Cook was a key piece in their run back then and Marquis is their man this year. He’s currently 14-8, but his ERA isn’t anything to write home about at 3.48. He only has 84 strikeouts, but if he keeps winning, he could be in the discussion. The chances of him winning are very weak, but at the very least he should get a lot of votes for Comeback Player of the Year.
Josh Johnson – He’s the ace for the Florida Marlins who got off to a blistering start this season. He maintained consistency, but the team has not helped him out with run support. He’s currently 12-3 with a 2.99 ERA and he has a K/9 rate around 8. If the Marlins were a playoff contender he would be in the discussion more. For Johnson to win the award, all of the leading candidates would have to go cold.
Tommy Hanson – He was called up a few months ago and he has helped the Atlanta Braves every time he pitches. He would take a miracle for him to win the award, but he’s currently 9-2 with a 3.04 ERA this season. He has only pitched 86.2 innings this year, but he goes perfect through the rest of his starts, he could get some votes. It’s an extreme longshot, but at the very least he has secured the NL Rookie of the Year and a contender for the Cy Young in 2010.
I really like Tim Lincecum in this race. He’s in a close race in the NL West and every start has a lot of exposure and publicity. Carpenter is the front-runner, but the Cardinals have a sizable lead in the NL Central and the Cardinals could give him some rest, since he has a history of injury. I think he’s his to lose, but Lincecum is breathing down his neck. It’s such a close race, it will come down to the last week of the season.