For the National League is being announced today (I think I read that right). If not, I don’t think anyone is reading this so who cares if I’m wrong? Until the announcement, here is some food for thought.
Greinke, Royals: The guy knows how to open and finish. His 0.84 ERA through 10 starts hadn’t been done since Juan Marichal in 1966 — when, incidentally, the Dominican Dandy did not get the Cy Young (Sandy Koufax did). But guess what? Greinke was even better at the other end, with an 0.75 ERA for his last eight outings entering the season’s closing week. And don’t worry about appearances: There is a surprising dose of precedence for the Cy Young Award going to someone on a losing team, even one in last place (Roger Clemens’ 1997 Blue Jays and Brandon Webb’s 2007 D-backs, for two recent examples).
Sabathia, Yankees: As strong a candidate as is Greinke, Sabathia is no less worthy of his second Cy Young Award. Interestingly, he pretty much Xeroxed the ledger that earned him the first with Cleveland in 2007, when he had a 19-7 record and 3.21 ERA. He could suffer some backlash for the Yankees’ power, financial and otherwise. But you can’t ignore the fact he went 11-2 after the Bombers moved into first place in the AL East in mid-July.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners: King Felix’s closing kick was as persuasive, but he is seeded lower for the simple reason that the great-pitcher-on-mediocre-team vote will go to Greinke. But the two are performance peers. Hernandez allowed two runs or fewer in 23 of his 34 starts, including one in mid-September against the Yankees that earned him the vote (only figuratively) of none other than Sabathia: “I saw Felix up close the other day, and I was like, ‘All right, this guy is unbelievable.’ So right now, he has my vote.”
Verlander, Tigers: He shouldered the pitching burden for a Detroit team that otherwise stumbled at the finish line, and he has made an even more dramatic U-turn than Greinke, having suffered 17 losses only last season. But, as with Sabathia, having three more wins for a contender than Greinke has for an also-ran may not be enough to swing the vote. To Verlander, his game-in, game-out dominance, and his ability to carry it through the season, was a reward for the work he put in last winter, when he was trying to rebound from the disappointment of 17 losses. It was a source of pride for him, and now that he has seen the results, his approach isn’t likely to change.
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays: Became the “forgotten man” once the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline passed, but you can never totally count out the 2003 winner who also finished in the top five in the Cy vote each of the past three years. And he’s still the league’s premier workhorse, with nine complete games, four of them shutouts.
Scott Feldman, Rangers: He’s a “stuff” pitcher, which never resonates with voters. But his record is up there with everyone else’s, and there are days he can dominate with control as much as the guys who light up the radar. Such as when his shutout of Tampa Bay prompted Joe Maddon to call it “the best pitching [we have] faced this season” — one month after the Rays had been perfect-game victims of Mark Buehrle.
The Field: Beckett, Red Sox; Weaver, Angels; Mariano Rivera, Yankees; Edwin Jackson, Tigers.