After a hot July, the MLB season has now gone into August. With the new Wild Card spots in play, more teams have hope coming into the stretch run. And, with more playoff births, more aces are trying to pitch their teams into the postseason. For the beginning of August, I’ve taken the list of Cy Young contenders down from ten to eight. I am also looking more in-depth at each candidate, as I turn my view to the candidates in the running for the N.L. Cy Young.
N.L. Cy Young
1. Matt Cain, SF, 13-5, 2.83 ERA. I feel it is a much closer race in the N.L. than the A.L. Last report, it was a three person race between Cain, Strasburg, and Dickey. Now, besides those three, you can add it Gio Gonzalez and Johnny Cueto. I give Cain the edge over Dickey for having a slightly lower WHIP and owning a perfect game. After some brief struggles, Cain has won his last three starts holding each opponent to 2 ER or less over 7 plus IP.
2. R.A. Dickey, NYM, 15-4, 2.82 ERA. This has easily been the best season of Dickey’s career, and he deserves all the kudos that goes along with it. He was 19-22 as a Met coming into this season, and this year has anchored the Mets pitching staff. Dickey is near the top in many crucial categories in the N.L.: he is 3rd in W, 4th in IP, 2nd in SO, and 1st in complete games at 4.
3. Johnny Cueto, CIN, 16-6, 2.47 ERA. Statistically, Cueto has put himself into running for the Cy Young. Cueto leads the N.L. in both wins and ERA. Cueto was sixth in my last N.L. poll for Cy Young, but he has been spectacular in July and August as the Reds try to put away the N.L. Central. Since July 8th, Cueto is 7-1 in nine starts with one no decision.
4. Stephen Strasburg, WAS, 15-5, 2.85 ERA. Strasburg had been my number one all season for the N.L. Cy Young. But, if you have ever watched Sports Center, and once you get past Jets and Ohio State coverage, you know Strasburg is going to be shut down at some point. That gives him a disadvantage that I don’t think he can overcome with the other pitchers are going full seasons. Strasburg is 1st in the National League in SO at 183, and he has won his last four straight decisions.
5. Gio Gonzalez, WAS, 16-6, 3.23 ERA. If the Nationals do bench Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez will be the ace of the National staff in the postseason. Traded in the offseason from Oakland, Gonzalez has shined in Washington already putting up 16 wins, a record for most wins for a National since the team moved there in 2005. Gonzalez is tied with Cueto for wins, and has gone 4-1 in his last six starts.
6. Aroldis Chapman, CIN, 31 SV, 1.31 ERA. Why do the Reds have the second best record in the N.L. and a seven game lead in the N.L. Central? Because, when Chapman comes into a game, the game is over. A dominant power pitcher, Chapman he has struck out 112 batters in 62.0 IP. His ERA is a microscopic 1.31, and his WHIP is significantly under one at 0.73.
7. Clayton Kershaw, LAD, 11-7, 2.87 ERA. Last year’s Cy Young winner has had an impressive 2012, but Kershaw is a step back of the rest of the pack. As the Dodgers try to land a playoff spot, Kershaw has been spectacular down the stretch. In his last five starts, he is 4-1 giving up 3 ER or fewer in each start including a shut out of the rival Giants. Kershaw leads the NL in IP (178.2), and he is second in WHIP at 1.00 ahead of Cain, Cueto, Dickey, and Strasburg.
8. Kyle Lohse, 13-2, 2.61 ERA. If the Cardinals sneak back into the playoffs like they did last season, Lohse will be a big reason why. In 26 games started this season, Lohse only has two defeats. As the Cardinals have made a push, they have only lost three of the last ten games Lohse has started while Lohse has gone 6-0 in that span. Lohse himself hasn’t lost a game since June 15th. He is 3rd in the N.L. in ERA, and 5th in the league in WHIP.