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Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Someone had to get squeezed out of the top five with the changes that were made. This week, the odd man out is Hamels. And with one week left in the regular season, he might not have a chance to get back in.
Hamels certainly deserves consideration as one of the top Cy Young Award candidates this season.
With 208 strikeouts, Hamels ranks third in the NL. His 3.11 ERA is one of the top eight in the league among NL starting pitchers. Hamels also ranks fifth in the league with a 1.13 WHIP and 208.1 innings pitched.
Hamels has been especially impressive since the All-Star break, compiling a 6-2 record and 2.99 ERA. That helped the Phillies get back into the NL wild-card race.
Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
Several commenters wondered why Cueto wasn't listed in last week's rankings. After allowing 14 runs and 28 hits in a span of three starts, I felt like he pitched himself out of the Cy Young Award race.
But in his two most recent appearances, Cueto allowed only two runs and 10 hits over 13 innings. He also walked four batters and struck out seven.
Unfortunately, those performances came too late to push him into contention again. Though Cueto pitches to contact and thus won't rack up the same strikeout totals as other top NL pitchers, his numbers just don't stack up against the competition.
With 210 innings pitched, Cueto ranks fifth in the league. His 2.80 ERA places him fifth as well, and that was the one statistic that distinguished him throughout the season.
Cueto has a shot at 20 wins if he gets the victory in his next start on Sept. 30. Between that and Cueto leading Baseball-Reference's WAR rankings at 5.7 wins above replacement, perhaps he deserves to be ranked higher than he is here.
Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
Each week in the comments, readers will bring up a name that was snubbed from the rankings. "What about Kyle Lohse?" "Why didn't you mention Jordan Zimmermann?" "Hey clown—where is Aroldis Chapman?"
The name I'm surprised no one has brought up is Cliff Lee. Maybe that's because of his 6-8 record. Perhaps it's because Hamels is regarded as the Phillies' best pitcher right now.
But Lee has been impressive during the second half, posting a 5-3 record and 2.74 ERA. He's actually been spectacular in September, compiling an 0.99 ERA in five starts.
No, Lee hasn't had a good enough season overall to win the NL Cy Young Award. But a pitcher who ranks among the league's 10 best pitchers in strikeouts (195), ERA (3.18), WHIP (1.13) and innings pitched (198) deserves mention.