This 2008 season sure started well for the Arizona Diamondbacks and their ace Brandon Webb.
Webb went 9-0 in his first nine starts with a 2.56 ERA, and looked like he might never lose a game.
The Arizona ace had another eight-game winning streak later in the season, which spanned two months and on August 21st, Webb was 19-4 with a 2.74 ERA.
As far as many were concerned, the National League Cy Young Award race was over. Surely, Webb would capture his second award in three seasons.
Since his 19th victory, however, Webb has now had three straight brutal outings in his bid for No. 20.
The right-hander was rocked for six runs in San Diego, followed by a disastrous performance at Chase Field on Sunday Night Baseball against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team chasing the D-Backs in the NL West—he surrendered eight runs.
Saturday afternoon, against the Dodgers, Webb was rocked again—being charged for seven runs, including Manny Ramirez's three-run home run at Chavez Ravine.
Now, Webb's claim in the Cy Young could be in jeopardy. (And don't say CC Sabathia; there is no way the Milwaukee Brewer should be mentioned in any race since he didn't spend the whole season in the NL.)
The San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum, 15-3 with a 2.60 ERA and a major-league leading 216 strikeouts, has to be a bigger part of the equation now.
It all depends on how Webb and Lincecum finish in baseball's final month of the season.
And don't say Lincecum doesn't deserve any votes for pitching for the awful Giants. It's not as though this situation is unprecedented.
In 1992, Tom Glavine was shooting for his second straight Cy Young, and was 19-3 with a 2.48 ERA through August 19th. And oh yeah, Glavine's Atlanta Braves were closing in on their second straight NL West title (Yes, they played in the West in those days.)
But a 1-5 stretch (with a 4.21 ERA) to end the season basically killed Glavine's chances, as the Braves lefty finished 20-8 with a 2.76 ERA and 129 K's.
Greg Maddux, still pitching with the Chicago Cubs then—a team that finished 78-84 (fourth in the East), sneaked in and stole the award from his future teammate.
Maddux, who was 15-9 with a 2.16 ERA on August 19th, went on a tear for the Cubbies, going 5-2 with two shutouts in his final nine starts and finishing 20-11 with a 2.18 ERA and 199 strikeouts.
Glavine's slump was so magnified that even the Cardinals' Bob Tewksbury (16-5, 2.16) was mentioned as a candidate. It was all for naught for Tewksbury, as he lost out on both the NL ERA title race to Bill Swift in the final week, and the Cy Young.
So in 2008, we still can't say Brandon Webb is guaranteed to capture the Cy Young, especially given his last three starts and given the way Lincecum has been pitching all year long.
And Lincecum has history (Maddux winning the award on a bad team) on his side.