Last season was the closest Cy Young race in the history of the National League. Both Roy Halladay and Clayton Kershaw were deserving and only one could wind up with the trophy. The race should be close this go around as well, but it likely won’t be as close as last season. Kershaw will be in it again, but will the voters give him the nod again? The last three weeks will tell the tale this time around.
1. R.A. Dickey– New York Mets
Dickey has less than 60 career victories including this season and at 38, you’d have to think he has fewer seasons ahead of him than behind him. Dickey specializes in the knuckleball. That makes his strikeout rate and walk rate that much more remarkable. He has been remarkably consistent, but since his team is out of the playoff hunt, he will struggle to find that signature moment in the next few weeks.
2. Clayton Kershaw– Los Angeles Dodgers
If you remove the won-loss records, you could practically throw a blanket over Kershaw and Dickey. The Dodgers are in the midst of a playoff race with the Giants and the rest of the NL wild card hopefuls. This gives him the opportunity to sway the voters by putting up a great start or two in the next couple of weeks.
3. Gio Gonzalez– Washington Nationals
Gonzalez isn’t as mesmerizing as Stephen Strasburg or as consistent as the two candidates above him, but he is there in terms of overall numbers. The final call will come down to the fact that he has fewer quality starts than the others. While it isn’t a perfect statistic, it does help us see how consistent he has been. Still, if he manages to get to 20 victories while the others don’t then he has a chance.
4. Matt Cain– San Francisco Giants
Cain has the signature moment over all of the rest of the candidates. He has a perfect game and has flirted with that on other occasions. Like Gonzalez, he hasn’t been as consistent as the others. The biggest telling sign is the difference between the ERA and xFIP. The xFIP is a fielding neutral metric that also includes neutral home runs allowed. In other words, he has been really lucky this season when it comes to batted ball luck and the defense played behind him.
5. Johnny Cueto– Cincinnati Reds
The defending ERA champ has an outside chance of winning the honor again. Cain currently leads among those that have qualified. Cueto has an outside chance of winning 20 games as well. If he pulls both of those off it will be hard to justify keeping him outside of the top three for the honor. Then again, Tony La Russa found a way to keep him out of the all-star game, so anything can happen.