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Felix Hernandez Cy Young Watch: Fading after a fantastic summer
Our tracking of Felix Hernandez's bid to win a second Cy Young Award:
I didn't update this feature last week because of football and travel and neglect. Wow, how things have changed.
Felix Hernandez was the American League Cy leader last time I posted. Now, he's struggling. He has a 9.00 ERA in his three September starts. In his last two outings, he has a 12.46 ERA. He has allowed 16 earned runs in three starts. He allowed only 17 earned runs in 14 starts from June 17-Aug. 27.
It doesn't take away from Hernandez's fantastic and memorable summer, which included his perfect game on Aug. 15 and five shutouts. But now he's going to have to do something incredible in the final 16 games to win his second Cy Young Award. It's still a close enough race to pull it off, and Hernandez will get an extra day of rest before his next start. Perhaps that will be enough to make him fresh for his final three starts. Right now, he looks like a pitcher who's wearing down, even though he and manager Eric Wedge say otherwise.
Current leader: David Price, Tampa Bay
The only knock on Price is that his 187 2/3 innings pitched rank him just ninth in the American League. He is nearly 30 innings behind the leader, Justin Verlander, and 25 innings behind Hernandez, who is No. 2 in workload. The rest of his numbers are helping him overcome that, however. Since allowing six earned runs in four innings in a loss to Texas on Aug. 27, Price has won back-to-back starts.
Stats: 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA, 181 strikeouts in 187 2/3 innings. Price leads the majors in ERA, and he leads the American League in wins. He's in the top five in the AL in WAR for pitchers and WHIP.
Ranking the other contenders
1. Justin Verlander, Detroit. Verlander has had two bad starts over the past five weeks. Other than that, he has ranked steady to spectacular during the stretch run and for most of the season. He is 14-8 with a 2.82 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 217 1/3 innings. He leads all big-league pitchers in WAR (6.4), innings and complete games (six). And he's second in strikeouts.
2. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angles. He's 17-4 with a 2.74 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 167 1/3 innings. Weaver leads the majors in WHIP (1.004). He's also second in the AL in ERA and wins. I think it's awfully close between Hernandez and Weaver because Weaver has missed five starts this season, which means he's a whopping 50 innings behind Verlander (and 45 behind Hernandez) in workload. But when you look at the season and his performance as a whole, he has been good enough to mitigate some of the workload concerns in this argument.
3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners. He's 13-8 with a 2.92 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 212 2/3 innings. Hernandez leads the majors with five shutouts. He's in the top five in the AL in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, innings and complete games. If he can stop the slide, there's still plenty of reason to like his candidacy.
4. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox. He's 17-6 with a 2.78 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 175 innings. Like Weaver, Sale has missed several starts and doesn't rank in the top 10 in the AL in innings. But the 23-year-old has had an outstanding breakout season. He's in the top five in the league in WAR, ERA, wins and WHIP.