Cy Young awards watch (cont.)
1. David Price, LHP, Rays (1)
Season Stats: 13-5, 2.90 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.12 K/BB, 2 CG
Last Five Starts: 3-2, 4.03 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.50 K/BB
Price has been a model of consistency this season. He has allowed more than three earned runs just twice in 19 starts and completed at least five innings every time he has taken the ball. He's also earned a decision in all but one of his starts, which, combined with his average 5.58 runs of support, has given him the league-lead in wins. The Rays offense has only had to bail him out one time all year. In fact, the reverse is often true: Prior to his post All-Star break stinker against the Yankees, the Rays had scored a total of seven runs in Price's four losses. Price hasn't had any overwhelmingly dominant stretches this season, but to this point, slow and steady continues to win this race.
2. Jon Lester, LHP, Red Sox (4)
Season Stats: 11-5, 2.92 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 2.98 K/BB, 2 CG
Last Five Starts: 3-2, 2.63 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 5.13 K/BB, 1 CG
When Lester took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the Mariners Saturday night, he looked ready to leap to the top of this list, but his struggles after Boston's Eric Patterson dropped the second out of that inning in center field kept Price in the top spot for one more week. Suddenly Lester is 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA in his last two starts, which has put a drag on his race up the charts, which had been fueled by his 11-1, 1.90 ERA performance over his previous 15 appearances. As evidenced by the fact that Patterson was starting in center field Saturday night, the Red Sox' woes (6-11 since July 4 with just 4.11 runs scored per game on the month) seem to be catching up with Lester, who has received three total runs of support in those last two losses while surrendering an unearned run in each after allowing just one unearned run in his previous 18 starts.
3. CC Sabathia, LHP, Yankees (N/A)
Season Stats: 13-3, 3.18 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.43 K/BB, 2 CG
Last Five Starts: 4-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.14 K/BB
In eight starts from June 3 to July 11, Sabathia went 8-0 with a 1.81 ERA, launching himself into the Cy Young picture. The Yankees haven't lost one of his starts since May 29, and Sabathia is 9-0 in his 10 starts since then and is just now getting to the point of the season where he has been dominant in recent years. In 2008, he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA, seven complete games, and three shutouts after being acquired by the Brewers in early July, and in 2009, he went 8-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his 10 straight starts from August 8 to September 26. The likelihood of another run of second-half dominance, which would surely result in Sabathia's first 20-win season, makes CC a major contender for the award he previously won in 2007.
4. Cliff Lee, LHP, Rangers (3)
Season Stats: 9-4, 2.56 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 14.43 K/BB, 6 CG
Last Five Starts: 3-1, 2.91 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 5.2 K/9, 8.33 K/BB, 2 CG
Lee has completed nine innings in six of his last nine starts (though only five counted as complete games), has failed to complete eight innings just four times in 16 starts this season and has yet to exit a game before recording the first out of the seventh inning. Since May 28, he has gone 7-2 with a 2.22 ERA in 11 starts and failed to complete the eighth just once. Since June 7, he has walked three men in 77 1/3 innings. It's bad news for the other men on this list that he wasn't traded to the other league. Curiously, in his last three starts for the Mariners before being traded on July 9, Lee received 23 runs of support and went 3-0, while in his first three starts for the Rangers he has received a total of six runs off support and gone 1-1. Still, one has to imaging that moving from a team that has scored just 3.33 runs per game this season to one that has scored more than five runs per game is only going to help his candidacy in the long run.
5. Carl Pavano, RHP, Twins (N/A)
Season Stats: 12-6, 3.26 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 4.26 K/BB, 5 CG, 2 SHO
Last Five Starts: 3-0, 3.05 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 5.2 K/9, 5.50 K/BB, 2 CG, 1 SHO
Indians fans aren't going to be any more upset about seeing Lee and Sabathia on this list than they were when those two faced each other in the World Series last year, but Yankee fans (and players and executives, for that matter) who scroll down to find Pavano here just might lose their lunch. From June 30, 2005 to August 20, 2008, the bulk of his four-year, $39.95 million contract with the Yankees, Pavano made exactly two major league starts, prompting his teammates to publicly question his commitment to returning from an almost comical string of injuries. Indeed, Pavano's return in late 2008 seemed all too perfectly timed to land him a new contract. In a little more than a year and a half since leaving the Yankees, Pavano has made 53 of 54 scheduled starts. This year, Pavano is third in the AL in innings (less than a full frame behind notorious workhorse Sabathia), quality starts, and wins, second in WHIP, complete games, and walks per nine innings (1.2), and first in shutouts. Since June 9, he has gone 7-0 with a 2.40 ERA in nine starts with four complete games and two shutouts while walking just eight men in 71 1/3 innings. He's been extremely fortunate on balls in play over that span (.203 BABIP), which suggests that someone else will be in this spot three weeks from now (Felix Hernandez, perhaps?), but for now, it's hard to argue against Pavano.
Off the list: Andy Pettitte (2), Jered Weaver (5)
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