There are many deserving pitchers for the Cy Young Award in the American League this year, but there is one pitcher who has stood above the rest.
Seattle Mariners' starting pitcher Felix Hernandez is the AL leader in innings pitched this season with 204.1 and strikeouts with 192. Felix has a 2.47 ERA this season, good for third in the AL and a WHIP of 1.11, tying him for third in the league.
Hernandez is the only pitcher in the league in the top five in all of these categories, and Hernandez has been absolutely outstanding as of late.
The hard-throwing Venezuelan has a minuscule ERA of 0.98 during the month of August as opponents have hit just .199 off of him. The only problem Hernandez has had this month is the same problem he's had all season; he just hasn't gotten the run support to win games.
Despite his dominance this month, Hernandez still managed to lose two of his five starts.
Felix has a marginal record of 10 wins and 10 losses this season thanks to the less-than-stellar run support the M's offense has given him.
In the past, the three main criteria Cy Young voters used to determine who they would vote for were wins, ERA, and strikeouts.
Last season, Kansas City Royals' ace Zack Greinke may have set a new precedent when he won the award with only 16 wins, the fewest wins by an AL Cy Young-winner since David Cone won while also a member of the Royals in 1994.
There are other good candidates for the award, such as Twins' pitcher Francisco Liriano, Yankees' starter C.C. Sabathia, the Rangers' Cliff Lee, and the Rays' ace David Price. All of these guys pitch for contending teams, but none of them has been as effective as Felix this season.
Price is the closest to Felix in ERA, but he is still more than half a run back at 3.01, while Sabathia is the closest in innings pitched with 194.2, but he is still 10 innings behind the King.
Liriano has 171 strikeouts this season, the closest of the other four contenders, but he is also still 21 Ks behind Hernandez.
Lee is the only one who is better than Hernandez in any major category besides wins and that is in WHIP. Lee has a very impressive WHIP of 1.00 on the season, due entirely to his remarkable control this season. Lee has thrown 179.2 innings this season and walked only 12 batters.
The 6'3" left-hander was the Mariners' best pitcher while he was on the team, better than even Felix, but the Cy Young race is a marathon and not a sprint.
Felix has been nearly untouchable since Lee was traded, while Lee has struggled to replicate the success he enjoyed in Seattle earlier in the season.
Felix has the numbers to prove that he is the American League's best pitcher this season, and if he continues to pitch the way he has as of late, he will end the season very close to Greinke's 16-game win total from a season ago.
Wins are the only area that Hernandez is lacking when it comes to winning the award, but if the voters truly vote for the best pitcher, then King Felix has to be the choice.