Awards up for grabs in final week (cont.)
1. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Mariners (2)
Season Stats: 12-12, 227 Ks, 2.31 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.34 K/BB, 6 CG
The AL Cy Young debate pitting Hernandez against Yankees 20-game winner CC Sabathia has raged long enough now that it seems the idea of Hernandez winning the award with roughly 13 wins and a winning percentage around .500 is gaining acceptance (Hernandez starts on Tuesday and could start again on the final day of the season, giving him an outside chance to finish with a 14-12 record). It doesn't hurt that Sabathia has struggled of late and now has an ERA nearly a run higher than King Felix's. Hernandez leads the majors in innings pitched (tied with Roy Halladay), quality starts, and quality start percentage. Among AL pitchers, he is first in strikeouts (two shy of leading MLB) and ERA, and second in WHIP and complete games. His support neutral won-loss record of 21-12 is the best in the majors and he's also tied with Halladay in the win-expectancy based SNLVAR (Support-Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Above Replacement). There's something for everybody there, and there just might be a Cy Young award for Hernandez, after all.
2. Jon Lester, LHP, Red Sox (3)
Season Stats: 19-8, 220 Ks, 2.96 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 2.83 K/BB, 2 CG
Lester could sneak in and swipe this award if he gets to 20 wins. On Thursday he'll face the White Sox in his only chance for number 20. He's not a better choice than Hernandez, but he's a better wins-choice than Sabathia and has out-pitched David Price as well. Special Bonus: with Toronto's Brandon Morrow shut down just shy of 150 innings due to a team-imposed limit, Lester now has the top strikeout rate in the AL among qualifiers.
3. David Price, LHP, Rays (N/A)
Season Stats: 18-6, 179 Ks, 2.84 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.27 K/BB, 2 CG
Price leap-frogged Sabathia via a pair of head-to-head matchups over the last two weeks. In the first, the two lefty aces matched eight scoreless frames. In the latter, Price turned in six quality innings and picked up the win after Sabathia fell apart in the sixth. However, Price's season line falls short of Lester's except for a small advantage in ERA and two fewer losses. Price might get an extra boost from the relative records of the Rays and Red Sox, but he shouldn't.
1. Roy Halladay, RHP, Phillies (1)
Season Stats: 20-10, 213 Ks, 2.53 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 7.10 K/BB, 8 CG, 3 SHO
Halladay has allowed three or four runs in each of his last six starts, posting a 4.32 ERA and allowing 10 home runs over that span. However, after struggling with poor run support early in the year, he is finally benefiting from a rejuvenated Phillies offense which has scored an average of seven runs in his four September starts, giving him a 4-0 record on the month. Fun fact: Halladay has walked 1.4 per nine innings pitched over the past seven seasons and 275 batters overall. Nolan Ryan issued more walks in every two-year span from 1972 to 1978.
2. Adam Wainwright, RHP, Cardinals (2)
Season Stats: 20-11, 213 Ks, 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 3.80 K/BB, 5 CG, 2 SHO
Wainwright and Halladay will each make just one more start this season, but this race is close enough that a disaster from Halladay and a gem from Wainwright might still tilt the balance. However, despite Wainwright's edge in ERA, WHIP and strikeout rate, Halladay's perfect game, impending postseason berth, innings pitched (a major league high 241 2/3 to Wainwright's still-impressive 230 1/3), and absurd K/BB ratio (currently the 20th best single-season mark among ERA qualifiers and 12th best since 1900) will likely prove too much to overcome. If Halladay avoids disaster this week, he should take home the award.
3. Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, Rockies (3)
Season Stats: 19-7, 198 Ks, 3.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.30 K/BB, 4 CG, 2 SHO
Jimenez will make two more starts this season, which should guarantee him his 200th strikeout and give him an excellent chance of picking up his 20th win, both of which will be career highs. It also gives him time to get his ERA back below 3.00, though even if he fails the last, he's likely to appear on the majority of ballots thanks to the memory of his white-hot start and those handsome final numbers. Those who leave him off are likely to go with Tim Hudson, Mat Latos, Josh Johnson or Roy Oswalt, all of whom deserve recognition.
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