Front Runner: Clayton Kershaw
As you'll see in a moment, there are a plethora of great options for projected Cy Young winner in the NL. Kershaw is simply a cut above the rest.
There are only three starting pitchers in the last 75 years with at least 900 innings pitched and a career ERA of 2.80 or better—Whitey Ford (2.75), Sandy Koufax (2.76) and Clayton Kershaw (2.77).
He struggled in his last outing against the Padres and still has a sub-2.00 ERA, a sub-1.00 WHIP and better than a strikeout per inning on the season.
Contender: Take your pick
If someone other than Kershaw is going to win the award this year, I don't know who it is. Not because there isn't anyone close to Kershaw's level, but because there are so many pitchers in the National League capable of winning the pitching Triple Crown.
Whether you're a supporter of Cliff Lee, Adam Wainwright, Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija or Stephen Strasburg, just know that there's a reasonable chance he could start the All-Star Game and be the 2013 Cy Young.
Dark Horse: Matt Harvey
Amongst all the NL Goliaths that have been honing their craft at the highest level for at least a year is a 24-year-old second-year flamethrower who might be the best of the bunch. The only real concern with Harvey is a possible innings limit.
He's much more efficient with his pitch count than a guy like Strasburg, but you have wonder whether the Mets would end his season a few starts early—especially if they finish as far out of the NL East race as most projected in the preseason. If they do, it's unlikely his wins or strikeouts would match up with the other candidates for the award.
Pretender: Mat Latos
Three major reasons I'm not buying Latos' hot start:
A) Over the previous three seasons, he was walking 2.8 batters per 9 IP. Through four starts in 2013, that number is only at 1.37. No one cuts their walk rate in half over the course of one offseason.
B) Also, over the previous three seasons, his K/9 was 8.55. Thus far, that number is up to 9.91. When walks are expected to increase and strikeouts are expected to decrease, it's a good indicator that ERA will also shortly be on the rise.
C) Johnny Cueto is the exception to the rule: It's no fun to pitch half of your games in the Great American Launching Pad.