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September 14, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Is this the Cy Young Award race nobody wants to win?

FelixAP.jpg
Just a couple of weeks ago, Felix Hernandez seemed on his way to running away with the AL Cy Young Award race. He didn’t even have to continue the brilliant pace he’d been on for two-plus months. All he had to do was be good in September.
Well, in three September starts, he’s now 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA, a .400 batting average and 1.024 OPS against and has averaged just over 5 innings per outing.
No, those aren’t Cy Young numbers.
Whatever the reason, Hernandez has picked a lousy time to go into his worst slump of the season. Funny thing is, this isn’t really a three-start meltdown. More like only two outings, because he had a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning of that game against the Angels just 13 days ago.
The good news is, nobody else has grabbed the Cy Young mantle and run with it. If anything, the continued success of David Price of the Rays has enabled him to jump right up there with Hernandez and Justin Verlander of the Tigers.
But lately, this has not been much of a “race” by definition, since the frontrunners appear to be running it as slowly as possible.
Photo Credit: AP


Verlander had his scheduled outing in Chicago rained out last night. Over his last three outings, he’s been 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA, a .301 batting average against and an OPS against of .857. He’s one of the reasons the Tigers have yet to run away with the AL Central, though that’s probably going to happen any time now.
Jered Weaver looked to be in Cy Young contention a month ago. Since running into the bat of Jesus Montero a few times too many, he’s now 2-3 with a 4.95 ERA in his last six outings and one reason the Angels are still fighting for their playoff lives instead of coasting.
Yes, contrary to some assertions out there, it isn’t big free agent bat expenditures that have hurt the Angels and Tigers. For the Angels, it’s been the complete failure of established arms — free agent and homegrown — in their rotation to consistently compete. And for the Tigers, it’s been a combination of pitching injuries, Verlander’s recent struggles, and the inconsistent performance all year of young, homegrown bats Brennan Boesch and Alex Avila — as well as by Delmon Young — in the Nos. 5 and 6 spots in the batting order.
Without Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols this year, both those teams would likely already be out of contention completely. So please, let’s stop it with some of the faux-analysis from the “free agent spending = evil” crowd.
Back to the Cy Young non-race, you’d think Chris Sale of the White Sox might step in to the void left by Hernandez and Verlander. Nope, in his last three outings, Sale is 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA and an OPS against of .874 — and that’s including his latest six-inning, one earned run allowed start versus KC.
Even the aforementioned Price — who had been on the outside looking in but now is very much in the Cy Young picture — has had a stumble of late. Price gave up six runs in four innings to Texas back in late August before rallying to beat Toronto with 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball.
But he then missed his next start due to shoulder soreness and is now slated to go tonight against the Yankees.
What may hurt Price’s chances against the like of Hernandez and Verlander is his relatively few innings (180 2/3) — which is roughly 30 behind both pitchers. There’s still a outside chance Price won’t throw 200 innings and that will definitely hurt his chances unless he manages to blow the field away — which hasn’t happened yet.
Heck, even Verlander’s rotation teammate, Max Scherzer, is now creeping into this thing. But just like Price, the lack of innings are working against Scherzer — as is the fact he’s only the second-best arm in his own rotation.
In other words, Hernandez has not lost this race yet. Simply because, nobody seems to want to win it. But if he doesn’t get it together soon, Hernandez will indeed wind up blowing an award that was his for the taking just two weeks ago.

Comments | Topics: Jesus Montero

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