Cy Contenders

Evan Brunell@evanbrunellFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2008

Don’t you just love when bloggers give you one of those blind, Pitcher A, Pitcher B you make the call type columns? I for one sure do!

So here goes:

Pitcher A:
15-2, 2.77 ERA, 7.74 K/9

Pitcher B:
12-4, 3.17 ERA, 6.12 K/9

Wow, while Pitcher B is having a nice season, Pitcher A is dominating. Is Pitcher A Pedro in his prime?

Ok…for Red Sox fans, this is a pretty easy one. Of course the big reveal shows Pitcher A to be Daisuke Matsuzaka and Pitcher B to be Jon Lester. And no, I am not making any comparisons between Pedro and Daisuke, that would just be silly.

The larger point I wanted to illustrate here was the likelihood, against all sense of justice in the baseball universe, that if the season ended today Daisuke Matsuzaka would finish higher in the Cy Young balloting than Jon Lester on the merits of the numbers above.

While the American League Cy Young award for 2008 may be Cliff Lee’s to lose (17-2, 2.43 ERA) and for my part I find it very difficult not to give Roy Halladay serious consideration for his appearance across the leaderboard for component pitching categories, both Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka will merit top five consideration for the award this season.

For any of us that have watched both pitchers this season, what a travesty the thought of Matsuzaka topping Lester in a national vote truly is.

From his 5-1 record and 1.41 ERA in games following a Red Sox loss (taking the “Stopper” label off the lapel of Josh Beckett’s uniform) to his no-hitter, Lester’s season has been everything that a team can expect out of the best pitcher in their rotation.

We’ll leave the “who is the ace argument for the off-season, but it’s clear that Lester’s been the best pitcher on the staff in 2008.

As for Daisuke Matsuzaka, while the 15-2 record and sub-3.00 ERA look gaudy, watching him work through the innings that compile those stats can look downright gruesome. While he’s near unhittable, his 6.89 hits allowed per nine ranks second in the American League, his 1.37 WHIP is pedestrian at best and while his 7.74 K/9 rate is above average, his 1.42 K/BB rate is, well, worse than bad.

Daisuke Matsuzaka may end up higher in the Cy Young balloting than Jon Lester come the end of the season, but Jon Lester’s clearly been the better pitcher.