The 2009 MLB season is fast approaching and it seems as if there are easily a dozen guys or more who have legitimate chances at winning a Cy Young award. I will do my best to count down the 10 pitchers who will have the best season in 2009.
You know it has to be a great list, when some names on my honorable mention list include the likes of Cliff Lee, Rich Harden, Dice-K, Chad Billingsley and Felix Hernandez.
Cole Hamels was a big reason for the Phillies' success in 2008. He was fourth in all of baseball in innings, and had 196 strikeouts and an ERA just over 3.
Hamels has incredible talent, and at the age of just 25, he has the potential to put up even better numbers in the 2009 season.
2008 was just Volquez's second season, but he put up some numbers that would make you think he was a five time all-star.
17 wins to just six losses, an ERA just over 3.20, over 200 strikeouts and just 14 homeruns allowed. Not to mention half of his starts came in the extremely hitter friend confines of the Great American Smallpark.
Volquez is one of the best young pitchers in the game. It's scary to think of the numbers he could put up if he played in a pitchers park, and had an offense to get him a few more runs per game.
Roy Oswalt is one of the most consistent pitchers in all of baseball. He has pitched over 200 innings the past five seasons, with an ERA of 3.50 or lower each season, including two seasons with an ERA under 3.
Houston does not appear to be a true contender in 2009, but that will not stop Oswalt from being one of the most competitive pitchers in the league.
Expect him to compete for the Cy Young Award with another 15-17 win season.
Dan Haren gave the Diamondbacks everything they could have wanted, and then some, in 2008. 16 wins (could have been around 20 if the bullpen hadn't struggled so mightily), an ERA of 3.33 and a strikeout/walk ratio of 5:1.
Likewise, the D'backs gave Haren everything he could have wanted, signing him to a four-year, $44 million contract extension through 2012.
Look for Haren to have another impressive season as he does his best to lead the D'backs to the post-season.
It's hard to say that Jake Peavy is coming off one of his more disappointing seasons, especially when you consider that his ERA was 2.85 and opponents hit just .229 against him.
To be fair, his San Diego Padres had a very miserable year, accounting for the main reason why Peavy was only able to put up 10 wins.
Expect Peavy's numbers to be very similar in 2009, but if you're a Padres fan, hope that his win total is significantly higher so that either maybe your Padres can sniff the post-season, or at least so that Jake can have a shot at another Cy Young award.
I am sure many of you are shocked that CC is fifth. However my list is the top 10 pitchers of 2009, not 2008.
I am not convinced CC will come close to the insanely ridiculous numbers he put up with Milwaukee in the second half of last season.
Despite being back in the AL, and in the toughest division in the AL, CC should still put up around 15 wins with an ERA around 3.50, with the potential of being even better than that.
I wanted to put Halladay No. 1. He had one of the best seasons of any pitcher in 2008, putting up 20 wins (3rd), 2.78 ERA (5th), and had the fewest walks of anyone with 200+ innings, plus he was second in all of baseball with 246 innings pitched. Halladay also had nine complete games, the most in baseball.
Halladay is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, and if possible, is still very underrated.
If he played somewhere other than Toronto, he would push 25 wins per year, and would get the chance to maybe pitch in the post-season.
Personally, I believe Brandon Webb should have won the NL Cy Young in 2008. His 22 wins, 3.30 ERA, 183 strikeouts in over 225 innings for a team with a winning record seemed like enough to me.
Despite not winning it, Webb will continue to be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball in 2009, and if the Arizona offense continues to mature, look for Webb to put up another 20+ win season, and compete for another Cy Young.
Despite believing the Webb should have won the Cy Young in '08, I cannot argue against the decision to give it to Lincecum. For an awful team, he posted 18 wins, an ERA of 2.60 and led all pitchers with 265 strikeouts.
If the Giants offense can improve at all, Lincecum and his herky-jerky syle could put up even scarier numbers in 2009.
Against my better judgment, I am putting Santana No. 1. I am unsure how his injury may affect him during the season. Assuming it does not affect him, he should once again be one of the most dominant pitchers in the game.
The much improved bullpen, including the addition of lights out closer Francisco Rodriguez will easily bulk up his 2008 win total of 16 to around 20 or so. Expect his numbers from 2008 (2.53 ERA and over 200 strikeouts) to be very similar in 2009 as he tries to help the Mets get over the hump and win the National League East Division title.