In a sport dominated by pitching, it's hard to remember a better time to be invested in the respective Cy Young races.
This a great season if you're a fan of stellar pitching, as there are a number of frontline starters who have routinely left us in awe. Having to decide on just one Cy Young candidate in each league will be an unenviable task for voters later this year.
Odds are, you don't have an American or National League Cy Young vote, but that doesn't mean you can't buy in or sell on several candidates throughout the season.
Here is a stock watch for the AL and NL Cy Young candidates as we enter June.
All statistics are valid through the beginning of play on May 31, and of courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs and MLB.com
1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: 12 GS, 83.1 IP, 87 K, 16 BB, 2.38 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 2.6 WAR
The combination of durability and dominance of the Seattle ace is unique, setting him apart from other pitchers in the majors.
After Thursday afternoon's gem in San Diego, Hernandez leads all of baseball in innings pitched thus far this season. If he can maintain his workload—along with his sterling ERA—he'll capture a second Cy Young.
2. Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers: 11 GS, 71 IP, 89 K, 18 BB, 2.79 ERA, 1.87 FIP, 3.1 WAR
Always known as a good, but not great, pitcher, Sanchez has taken a leap, justifying the five-year, $80 million deal given to him by the Tigers last winter.
While his ERA since 2009 is in the top 25 of all qualified starters, he's never done it over a 200-inning season.
If Sanchez can stay healthy, he'll have the chance to do that in 2013 and improve his chances for winning a Cy Young.
3. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers: 11 GS, 74.1 IP, 105 K, 22 BB, 3.03 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 2.2 WAR
Pitching in Texas may always keep Darvish's ERA than his Cy Young competition, but that won't stop fans and observers from recognizing his dominance.
With a ridiculous combination of pitches, arm angles and speeds, Darvish might be the most athletically pleasing pitcher to watch since Pedro Martinez in his prime.
If he continues on his blistering pace toward upwards of 300 K's for the season, the Pedro comparisons will just intensify.
4. Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox: 10 GS, 72.2 IP, 73 K, 27 BB, 1.73 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 2.5 WAR
If this column was written in the 1980s, Buchholz would clearly take the top spot. After all, he's 8-0 with the best ERA in the AL!
Of course, it's 2013 and baseball scribes, fans and analysts have come up with more thorough ways to evaluate pitchers than just W-L records and ERA.
That being said, Buchholz's peripherals, including a strong 2.53 FIP, spell good things for his season and Cy Young potential.
His stock has fell due to a missed start from the inflammation experienced in his AC joint. If he stays healthy and pitches well this Sunday, this stock will rise. If not, he could fall off the watch by early July.
5. Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers: 10 GS, 68.1 IP, 81 K, 16 BB, 3.42 ERA, 2.39 FIP, 2.5 WAR
It might seem to some observers that Scherzer is just now putting it all together, finally fulfilling in Detroit the potential he flashed as a rising prospect in the Diamondbacks' organization.
If that's the narrative surrounding the Tigers' righty, then the folks promoting it somehow missed out on his dominance over the last calender year.
Since mid-May of 2012, Scherzer ranks among the Top 10 in baseball in ERA, WAR and K/9. In short, he's been dominant for a while.
If he continues that production for another few months, he could have an award to prove it.
Just missed the cut: James Shields, Chris Sale, Hiroki Kuroda
1. Matt Harvey, New York Mets: 11 GS, 78 IP, 84 K, 17 BB, 1.85 ERA, 2.27 FIP, 2.5 WAR
It would be easy to say that Harvey is a New York media creation, more hyperbole than substance and the product of a porous Mets team that make his outings look better in theory than reality.
Easy, but far from the truth.
Harvey is the real deal, dominating on the mound since his call up last July on a Monday night in Arizona.
While he's clearly been more fired up for big games against Stephen Strasburg and the New York Yankees, his dominance over lesser competition—the Marlins, White Sox and Twins—shows his laser like focus from start to start.
2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals: 11 GS, 80 IP, 74 K, 6 BB, 2.48 ERA, 1.88 FIP, 3.0 WAR
Through the first two months of the 2013 season, Wainwright has posted a 12.33 K/BB ratio. In other words, he's striking out 12 opposing batters for every one he walks.
If that ratio seems outrageous, it is. In fact, it's the best mark baseball has seen in the last 20 years. Some names directly below Wainwright on that single-season list for K/BB (since 1994): Saberhagen, Lee, Schilling, Martinez and Maddux.
In case you were wondering, all of them posted pretty decent seasons in those particular years.
Something tells me Wainwright is about to join that group.
3. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: 11 GS, 80.1 IP, 77 K, 21 BB, 1.68 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 2.2 WAR
Full disclosure: Clayton Kershaw has spoiled baseball fans with his young career.
While watching Kershaw throw this season, I've found myself expecting more, surprised when he allows a run and wondering when he's going to turn it up a notch this season.
Then I'm reminded of his 1.68 ERA and WHIP under .90.
We're watching the start of a very, very special career, folks.
4. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies: 11 GS, 80.2 IP, 63 K, 13 BB, 2.34 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 2.0 WAR
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro has made many questionable decisions during his tenure in Philadelphia.
Reacquiring Lee, after shipping him to Seattle in one of those strange moves, profiles as one of his best achievements.
The strike-throwing left-hander may compete for another Cy Young this year—unless Amaro reverses course, begins an overdue rebuilding process and moves Lee for young talent.
If that move happens, perhaps to an AL contender, Lee's name would be removed from the list.
A.J. Burnett starting for Pirates. His 44 K with his curveball lead MLB Check out this visual on his curveball K pic.twitter.com/sjJY7i9wzT— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 24, 2013
Who has been the best pitcher in baseball this season?
5. A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates: 12 GS, 76 IP, 89 K, 29 BB, 2.72 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 1.7 WAR
Yes, that same Alan James Burnett is a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate this season.
If that surprises, this may shock you: He's not just thriving, but doing it by putting on a 2012 David Price impersonation.
Last year, on his way to the AL Cy Young, David Price finished sixth in ground-ball (GB) percentage and eighth in K/9.
Remarkably, A.J. is bettering that pitching production in 2013. Currently, Burnett leads the NL in K/9 and ranks third in GB percentage.
Just missed the cut: Patrick Corbin, Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Minor
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