10 Contenders For The 2013 National League Cy Young Award
National League Cy Young: 10 Contenders
With the season winding down, teams are making their run to the postseason and players are making their final cases for regular season awards. One of the most interesting awards race at the moment is the chase for the National League Cy Young.
As you know, the Cy Young award goes to the best pitcher in baseball, with one winner in the American League and one in the National League. On the NL side this season, the favorite seems to be Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kershaw has been fantastic this season and it will surely be tough for anybody to knock him off. However, you never know what the voters are thinking and there are certainly other strong candidates.
One thing that I thought was very interesting when looking at Cy Young candidates in the NL, was the obvious presence of closing pitchers. The Cy Young is historically an award given to a starting pitcher. In the 46-year-old history of the award, only nine relief pitchers have taken home a Cy Young, five in the NL and four in the AL. Most recently, Eric Gagne won a Cy Young in 2003 with the Dodgers after racking up 55 saves and posting a 1.20 ERA. Relief pitchers simply do not win the award often and when they do, they must simply be dominant.
The NL Cy Young race is loaded with serious contenders this season. Whether it be Kershaw, one of the elite closers or an under-the-radar contender, I am excited to see who takes home the award in 2013. Here are the 10 best contenders for the National League Cy Young.
Aroldis Chapman is one of the closing pitchers that has a shot at this award. The Cuban fireballer has 38 saves and a 2.63 ERA in 66 appearances this season. Chapman and his 100-plus mph fastball has struck out 107 batters in only 61.2 innings pitched, which makes for an incredible 15.6 K/9. You do not want to be down late against the Cincinnati Reds, because Chapman has elite stuff and is one of the best in the business at shutting the door in the ninth inning.
Patrick Corbin has faded a bit down the stretch, but he has had an incredible season overall and will surely receive some votes for the Cy Young. In his first full season in the majors, the 24-year-old lefty has a 14-7 record with a 3.28 ERA. Corbin's stuff does not blow you away like Chapman's, but he has shown great movement on his pitches and has the ability to throw strikes. I think this is just the first of many Cy Young races in Corbin's future.
Many were surprised when Jose Fernandez started the season in the Miami Marlins' starting rotation. Before 2013, the 21-year-old right hander had never pitched above class-A. The Marlins had faith in Fernandez and decided he was ready for big leagues. Well, they could not have been more right. Fernandez was spectacular in his rookie season, going 12-6 on a horrible Miami team with a 2.19 ERA. Fernandez struck out 187 batters in only 172.2 innings. The Marlins shut Fernandez down early this season as they look to save his arm for the future. Fernandez may not have the track record to win the Cy Young this season, but he will surely get some consideration, and I think he is the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.
Kershaw has once again been dominant in 2013. His incredible 1.88 ERA shows that he has been much better than his 15-9 record indicates. His minuscule ERA and 230 innings pitched are the best in baseball, and his 224 strikeouts are tops in the NL. Kershaw is definitely the favorite for the Cy Young, which would be his second time winning the award. There are other deserving candidates, but if I had a vote, it would go to Kershaw.
After a slow start to the season by his standards, Craig Kimbrel is one the most likely guys to take the award if not for Kershaw. Kimbrel has simply been dominant once again as the closer for the Atlanta Braves. He leads MLB with 49 saves, and he has only blown four chances. Kimbrel does not have staggering strikeout rates like Chapman, but he is not far behind, as he has 93 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched for a 13.1 K/9. Kimbrel's ERA is an incredible 1.27. The game is basically over if you are trailing the Braves in the ninth inning.
Mat Latos is certainly an under-the-radar candidate, but he will surely receive some Cy Young votes. Latos has a 14-6 record and a 3.23 ERA. He has struck out 180 batters in 203.2 innings pitched. Latos has very good, not great stuff, but he always seems to get the job done. He does not walk many batters and he does a fantastic job of keeping the ball in the ball park. Also, at only 25-years-old, he should be a mainstay on this list for years to come.
At 35-years-old, Cliff Lee just keeps chugging along, and he messed around and got himself involved in a Cy Young race this year. What is there to say about Lee that has not been said before? This year, Lee has a 14-7 record and 2.93 ERA. His 209 strikeouts and 214.2 innings pitched are among the league leaders. After Kershaw, Lee may be the best starter in the National League.
The St. Louis Cardinals had a hole in the back of their bullpen earlier this season. Edward Mujica got the closer role in April and he never looked back. He is fourth in the National League in saves with 37 and only has four blown saves. His 2.53 ERA and 0.97 WHIP are fantastic as Mujica has been one of the most reliable late-inning relievers in baseball. He does not put up the gaudy strikeout numbers like Kimbrel and Chapman, but he continually got the job done for the Cardinals in 2013. His stuff will not blow you away, but an out is an out, and Mujica certainly racked up a lot of those this season.
Adam Wainwright has returned to ace form in 2013. He is second in the National League in wins with a 17-9 record, his 2.98 ERA is in the top-10 in the NL, his 209 strikeouts are tied for second and he is also second in innings pitched with 229.1. He has given up a lot of hits, but he hardly walks anybody as his 34 walks are the fifth least in the NL for qualified pitchers. Wainwright has been fantastic this season, and might be a dark horse for the Cy Young award. I will surely be surprised if he takes it home, but crazier stuff has happened. He is probably the next most likely starting pitcher to win after Kershaw.
Things are really coming together nicely for 27-year-old right hander Jordan Zimmermann. At the beginning of the season, Steven Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez would have been the likely Washington Nationals pitchers on this list, but Zimmermann has had a much better season than both of those guys. Zimmermann leads the NL in wins with a 19-8 record. His 3.18 ERA and 1.095 WHIP are solid, and he is among the league leaders in innings pitched with 206.1. Zimmermann is never going to rack up huge strikeout numbers, but he is a guy that locates his pitches well and simply gets batters out. Zimmermann has loaded up on wins this season, and that will surely get him some Cy Young votes.