Handicapping The NL Cy Young Race

Aaron HooksCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2009

Adam Wainwright sees your 214 strikeouts, Mr. Lincecum, and raises you 8 innings of flawless 1-0 winning. Chris Carpenter is already in with a 14-3 record and a 2.16 ERA. Who’s going to blink first?

The Cy Young field has narrowed to three contenders in the NL. Two of them are Cardinals. Last night, St. Louis gave the soft serve to Mr. Wainwright, but the dark horse in the race for NL pitching royalty responded by providing a dominating performance that not only deflated an impressive Wandy Rodriguez, but had Cardinal Nation dreaming all night about October 2009.

If pitching wins championships… Ok, let’s try not to get ahead of ourselves yet. First, a Cy Young winner has to emerge from this troika of well-endowed arms—so let’s handicap the race through August 25.

Tim Lincecum (2-1 Odds)

Pros: 214 K’s—voters are hard up for strikeouts, they can’t get enough. Twelve wins so far without guys like Holliday or Pujols behind you? People give Albert too much respect here? He’s backed up a Cy Young season with a Cy Young season—some voters have visions of making him the most decorated player ever? He’s the only player on his team, so he doesn’t have to split votes. He’s also a media darling for his over-exuberance at making 600K this season seeing it as a huge raise (his agent is a genius!)

Cons: Giants aren’t locks for the postseason. With that offense, a couple more losses could be a possibility, if not a probability. He’s got 4 already; will 6 or 7 still do it? That hair. Seriously. Old people hate long hair. Old people vote for the Cy Young.

Christopher Carpenter (5-3 Odds)

Pros: 2.16 ERA—If he’s close to this number through September, he wins. A sub 2.3 ERA virtually guarantees a Cy Young since 1990. The story- he will be the comeback player of the year in the NL. America loves redemption and overcoming. He’s battled 2 years of arm problems to return to top form.

Negatives: Strikeout totals—Like home runs for hitters, voters dig the K. He won’t likely end up with more than 160 K’s for the season. He’s won it before—could voters choose to award a fresh face? Innings pitched—he will end up with less than Wainwright & Lincecum because of a brief shut down early in the year.

Adam Wainwright (8-1 Odds)

Pros: 25 straight games now with at least 6 innings pitched—he’s a workhorse, garnering some blue collar votes. Hot down the stretch—8-2 since July 1—he’s getting better as the season wears on.

Cons: 7 losses—most likely he’ll get tagged with another L or two before the season ends—many of those were tough luck, but it still doesn’t look good to the casual fan or voter. Carpenter- having a teammate with such an impressive case can’t help but split votes. Is Wainwright more popular than Carp? I don’t think so.

So who takes care of business in September and comes away with the NL Cy Young? Predications? Anything I missed handicapping the race?