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Clayton Kershaw (2.43 FIP, 8.59 K/9, 4.46 K/BB, 21 QS, 25 GS, 5.0 WAR)
*See reasoning in next section.
Matt Harvey (2.02 FIP, 9.83 K/9, 5.84 K/BB, 18 QS, 24 GS, 5.7 WAR)
Choosing between the favorite and the biggest challenger for the NL Cy Young was by far the most difficult decision of all of these predictions. Both Kershaw and Harvey have been lights out all season.
In the end, I let four things dictate my decision.
First, Kershaw has more quality starts than Harvey. In fact, he has more quality starts than anyone. Kershaw also has 16 starts in which he went at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs. Harvey "only" has 14 of those starts.
Second, Harvey has had the luxury of facing some terrible opponents. Of his 23 starts, four have come against Miami, three each against Philadelphia and Washington, and he has had one start each against the low-scoring Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Padres and Giants. All in all, 17 of his starts have been against teams who rank in the bottom 12 in runs scored on the season. Meanwhile, only three of his starts (St. Louis, Atlanta, Colorado) have come against teams in the top 10.
Kershaw hasn't exactly dealt with a murderers' row, either, but at least 11 of his 25 starts have come against teams in the upper half of the aforementioned runs scored leaderboard.
I'm not using that "strength of schedule" aspect to argue that Harvey hasn't been amazing, but rather that perhaps Kershaw has been just that much more amazing because he has dealt with tougher competition.
That brings me to the third distinguishing feature, which is the fact that Kershaw is pitching in a pennant chase while Harvey is just helping his team not finish in last place. It's one thing to take the mound every fifth day with the knowledge that a bad outing could damage your pristine ERA. It's another thing altogether to know your team needs your best every time out in order to make the playoffs or secure home-field advantage.
Fourth, and perhaps most daunting for Harvey, is the eternal fear of an innings limit. New York hasn't come out and said it'll be shutting Harvey down or even taking any steps to proactively limit his workload, but you have to think it's coming in some capacity, right?
Even if it's just giving him an extra day off here and there or calling it a season one week early, it would really hurt since we all know darn well that Kershaw isn't going to get shut down. In a race this close, the difference between 35 and 31 or 32 games started could be absolutely massive.
Adam Wainwright (2.47 FIP, 7.98 K/9, 6.75 K/BB, 20 QS, 25 GS, 4.9 WAR)
Oh by the way, Wainwright has had himself one heck of a season as well. Unfortunately, he has given up at least three earned runs in six of his last eight starts, which has caused him to lose some ground to both Kershaw and Harvey in WAR and ERA. He's still very much in the running, though.