Published on May 14th, 2013 | by Nick Bragg1
Cy Young Watch – National League
I know, I know, It’s waaaaay too early to crown a Cy Young winner, but it’s never too early to talk about it. Just over a month into the 2013 season, each pitcher on this list has started at least seven games, but they’ve already begun to separate themselves from the rest. These guys are the upper-echelon, the athletes kids want to be like when they grow up. These are the first month all-stars. While some of these guys might fade away and never poke their heads into the Cy Young discussion for the rest of the year, some of them will go on to have fantastic finishes to their brilliant seasons. We may even have the next Cy Young candidate profiled right here. Without further ado, these are the five frontrunners in the 2013 National League Cy Young race.
Adam Wainwright, RHP – 5-2, 2.30 ERA, 55 K
Wainwright has been excellent at limiting baserunners through his first eight starts this year. He owns the lowest BB/9 ratio (0.61) of any qualified pitcher by a long shot. In 58.2 innings he’s allowed a measly four walks. While Wainwright doesn’t have the lowest ERA of the National League Cy Young front-runners, his command of the strike zone has been second to none, making him my prediction to take home the NL Cy Young.
Rookie Shelby Miller has looked fantastic this year as well. If both pitchers can keep up their current Cy Young paces, the Cards will be the team to beat in the super-competitive NL Central. Look out Reds!
Matt Harvey, RHP – 4-0, 1.44 ERA, 62 K
Matt Harvey comes in at a close second for me at this point in the season. Not only has he been racking up the K’s, but he has limited opposing batters to a league-leading .141 batting average. The next closest NL pitcher is Clayton Kershaw who has allowed opposing batters to hit .175.
Harvey has been lights out for the Mets, but he hasn’t been getting the run support he needs to earn the W’s. In his last three starts, the Mets’ lineup has only provided him with four runs. In his start against the White Sox, he went nine shutout innings, while only giving up one hit, striking out 12 batters and didn’t allow a walk, yet he didn’t earn the win. It seems like Harvey is getting a little taste of King Felix’s medicine. As a Mariners fan, I know how frustrating it can be to see your ace pitch a gem, only to see your offense flounder and your bullpen hand over the game. But, if Felix can win the Cy Young with a 13-12 record, so can Harvey.
Clayton Kershaw, LHP – 3-2, 1.62 ERA, 56 K
Kershaw won the pitching triple crown and the Cy Young in 2011, placed second, with 43% of the votes last year, and is as good a bet as any to take the Cy Young home again this year. The only obvious mark against him, like Matt Harvey, will be his win total. Kershaw can’t help that, so what can he help? Well, he owns the 5th best ERA in the NL with 1.62, and he’s one of only eight pitchers to have tossed a complete game this year. Kershaw is fifth in the league in strikeouts with 56, and he owns the fifth lowest WHIP.
At this point in the season, Kershaw is among the top pitchers, but has yet to truly separate himself from the rest of the pack. I suspect that in time, he’ll leave a few of the guys on this list in the dust, solidify himself atop the leaderboard once again and show everyone that he’s just as dominant as ever.
Madison Bumgarner, LHP – 4-1, 2.18 ERA, 54 K
In just his third year as a regular in the Giants’ rotation, Bumgarner has established a baseline of 191 strikeouts and an ERA in the low three’s. While he’s been around for a few years, people often forget that the guy is only 23 years old. The only two qualified pitchers in any team’s starting rotations that are younger are Shelby Miller from the Cardinals and Patrick Corbin from the Diamondbacks (coincidentally, both of those pitchers were close misses for my Cy Young picks).
Bumgarner still has his best years ahead of him. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m excited to watch this youngster terrorize the division rival Dodgers for years to come.
Jordan Zimmermann, RHP – 7-1, 1.69 ERA, 39 K
Zimmermann isn’t just the winningest pitcher on the Nats, he currently leads all of baseball with seven wins. He’s also fifth in the league in ERA with 1.69 and second in WHIP with 0.87. Really, the only knock on Zimmermann, although it is a big one, is his relatively low strikeout total. His K/9 rate since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2009 has actually been under seven. While it seems damn near impossible for Zimmermann to make a legit Cy Young run with such a low strikeout rate, I chose to add him to this list out of respect for the rest of his game. Zimmermann may never crack 200 K’s again, but there’s no reason why he can’t keep his earned run average incredibly low and lead the Nationals to an NL East pennant, and that’s got to count for something.
Cliff Lee, LHP – 4-2, 2.86 ERA, 43 K
Shelby Miller, RHP – 5-2, 1.58 ERA, 51 K
A.J. Burnett, RHP – 3-3, 2.57 ERA, 66 K
Patrick Corbin, LHP – 5-0, 1.75 ERA, 36 K
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