All of the top contenders in the American League for the Cy Young Award have had rough Augusts. Jon Lester has had a series of bad outings and was replaced last night in the rotation by Wakefield. Cliff Lee has had several bad outings for Texas. Greinke has never been a factor this year. Jared Weaver has been great, but just good lately. That leaves Liriano, who has a big game against Texas tonight and Felix Hernandez. What about C. C. Sabathia? His MO is to win without pitching gems. His forte is keeping the Yankees in the game long enough for the Yankee sluggers to win the game. He is nowhere near as dominant as the others mentioned here.
The problem for Hernandez is that he is 10-10, which is really a shame because if you look at all his stats, his year is remarkably similar to last year's 19-5 season. Fangraphs rates his value just barely under Liriano's and that doesn't take into account his big win over Boston in Boston on Wednesday night. But Hernandez leads the American League in innings pitched and batters faced. And yet, he has a 2.47 ERA. In fact, his combined ERA over the last two seasons is 2.49. How's that for consistent pitching?
Everything about Hernandez screams Cy Young except for his record. He's going to finish over 200 strikeouts again. He has given up 7.6 hits per nine innings after leading the league in that category a year ago with 7.5. His walks per nine are the best of his career. His WHIP is under 1.13. What else can a guy do? And he beats good teams. He has beat the Red Sox, he's beat the Yankees three times this year. He's beat the Padres, the Reds and the Twins. In only three of his outings this year has he given up over three earned runs and yet his team (which is terrible) is only 13-15 during his starts. He didn't get a single win in May.
Last year, Hernandez lost the Cy Young to Zack Greinke, who had an amazing year. Greinke didn't have as good a record as King Felix, but the voters went with the best stats. That was a breakthrough of sorts. Perhaps if Hernandez has a good September, the same will hold true for this year.