The National League Cy Young race consists of a couple of surprising names. It’s not the typical candidates that are leading the charge.
With less than a month to play, each pitcher should get about four to five more starts to wrap up his case.
Here are the latest Cy Young rankings in the N.L:
R.A. Dickey, New York Mets
I give Dickey the slightest of edges over Johnny Cueto at the moment despite the similarity in statistics. Trust me, it was a tough call, though.
Dickey’s ERA checks in at 2.63, compared to Cueto’s 2.58 mark, and both have 17 wins. Dickey, however, owns a marginal edge in the advanced stats department which is ultimately where the separation comes into play. He boasts a 3.22 FIP to Cueto’s 3.60 FIP and an 8.97/9 strikeout rate to Cueto’s 7.11/9 mark. The voters like strikeouts, much like that fans, and Dickey’s nasty knuckleball has been consistently racking up the swings and misses throughout the season.
Dickey also has a compelling story working in his favor— the transformation from your basic fastball pitcher to a tricky knuckleball based pitcher. On the same token, it has paid dividends for him, and I’m not just talking about 2012. Since 2010, he has amassed a 2.93 ERA thanks to the switch in styles.
Everybody likes a good story, right?
On a different note, the Cy Young winner doesn’t always come from a winning team like the MVP generally does. Of course if a pitcher is a Cy Young candidate on a winning it doesn’t hurt his cause, but in retrospect, it doesn’t determine the final results. So, Dickey is saved by that seeing that the Mets can’t buy a win in the dog days of summer. In fact, Dickey owns nearly one-third of the Mets’ second half victories (5)—the Mets have 18.
Johnny Cueto, Reds
The Reds have been exceptional on the pitching spectrum of things this season. Considering how favorable Great American Park is it hitters, that statement might come across as a surprise. But it’s the cold hard truth, folks.
The Reds’ entire pitching staff boasts a sparkly 3.44 ERA. Not only is that mark good enough for the second best line in the N.L behind the Nationals, but it’s a substantial improvement over last year’s mark of 4.16.
Mat Latos has been solid, so has Homer Bailey, but Johnny Cueto has been the driving force behind the Reds’ stellar starting pitching. He’s been the one consistent pitcher on the starting rotation, and the Reds heavily rely on him every five days to keep the game in tact. If I’m not mistaken, that’s pretty much the definition of an ace and a Cy Young worthy pitcher.
If anything else, the stats complete the picture. He leads the N.L with a 2.58 ERA, is tied with Dickey in wins (17), and is fourth in innings pitched (188.2).
Given that Great American Park is so vulnerable to the long ball, Cueto must garner some extra credit for yielding opposing hitters to just seven home runs at home, along with a .234 opponents batting average.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw will be labeled as this year’s dark horse to win the coveted Cy Young award because it’s practically impossible to completely rule him out of the race.
Yes, it’s a long shot, but Kershaw still has about five more starts to gain ground in the race. Which believe it or not is a lot of time. The downside— two of those final five or so starts will come against St.Louis and Cincinnati, two of the National League’s most dangerous offenses. But when he gets the juices flowing, there are few pitchers who can match him pitch for pitch, and it doesn’t matter whose in the batter’s box.
The lefty’s stats for the most part are right up to par. His 196.2 innings pitched leads the N.L, and so do his 197 strikeouts. While wins don’t carry much value these days, his 12 wins can’t match Cueto’s and Dickey’s win totals.