Neither one of last year’s Cy Young winners figures to repeat in 2013.
Defending American League winner David Price struggled early before hitting the disabled list. His chances of winning again seem negligible.
Don’t worry David, defending National League winner R.A. Dickey won’t be repeating either.
Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer is in the midst of what’s easily the best season of his career, and has taken the league by storm with a 13-1 record heading into the mid-summer classic.
Scherzer’s breakout has been the story in Motown but there hasn’t been a shortage of stellar first-half showings from starters with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Yu Darvish, Bartolo Colon, and Chris Sale all at the top of their games.
Hernandez is the only one of those contenders to have earned the award in his career but he may have a difficult time holding off the stiff competition for the prize.
Here, we look at the leading candidates for the Cy Young award:
The skinny: Even with Verlander on the staff, Scherzer’s has been the Tigers’ best starter this season. The fireballer is tied for the league-lead in wins (with Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore), and ranks in the top-three for strikeouts, WHIP, and opponents’ batting average.
The skinny: King Felix is having another dominant year in Seattle. According to FanGraphs, he has the highest wins above replacement (WAR) in the American League and ranks second in all of baseball with a 5.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Imagine if he had some run support.
The skinny: Ignore the win-loss record because Chris Sale is for real. The right-hander has strong stats across the board and ranks in the top-three in strikeouts-per nine innings. Not bad for a pitcher on a last-place team.
The skinny: It’s unfortunate Darvish will miss the all-star game with an injury, but the Japanese pitcher has been a major success in his second MLB season. The Blue Jays may wish they splurged on Darvish instead of Josh Johnson & co.
The skinny: As a 40-year-old with essentially one pitch — his fastball — Colon continue to dazzle in Oakland. We know pitchers tend to have success at that ballpark, but Colon has been the driving force for a team many thought was a fluke last season.
Buck Martinez, Blue Jays broadcaster: Max Scherzer
Mike Wilner, Sportsnet 590 The Fan: Max Scherzer
Ben Nicholson-Smith, sportsnet.ca: Felix Hernandez
Mike Cormack, sportsnet.ca: Felix Hernandez
Scott Carson, Sportsnet statistician: Max Scherzer
Tao of Stieb, Sportsnet blogger: Felix Hernandez
Jeff Simmons, sportsnet.ca: Felix Hernandez
Fortunately for voters, ballots aren’t due for another few months.
Right now Adam Wainwright, Matt Harvey and Clayton Kershaw all have such compelling cases for the award that weighing their contributions against each other may be futile.
Kershaw, who won the award in 2011 and came close to repeating in 2012, leads the league in ERA for the third consecutive season.
Harvey leads the league with 147 strikeouts and has a sparkling 2.35 ERA. It’s conceivable that he could win the Cy Young in his first full season.
Adam Wainwright leads the league in innings, complete games and shutouts. Now two seasons removed from Tommy John surgery, he has walked just 15 hitters while striking out 130.
Don’t forget about Cliff Lee and Jordan Zimmermann, either. Both are within striking distance following strong first half performances.
The skinny: If you post a 2.86 ERA with six times as many strikeouts as walks, you’re going to find yourself in the mix for the Cy Young. Even at the age of 34, Lee is one of the league’s best pitchers.
Buck Martinez, Blue Jays broadcaster: Adam Wainwright
Mike Wilner, Sportsnet 590 The Fan: Matt Harvey
Ben Nicholson-Smith, sportsnet.ca: Clayton Kershaw
Mike Cormack, sportsnet.ca: Clayton Kershaw
Scott Carson, Sportsnet statistician: Adam Wainwright
Tao of Stieb, Sportsnet blogger: Clayton Kershaw
Jeff Simmons, Sportsnet.ca: Adam Wainwright