The only thing separating 2011 from 2010 as "the Year of the Pitcher" is the slew of no-hitters and perfect games that generated so much publicity. However, league wide the pitching has been as superb this season as it was last.
Jered Weaver has an ERA below 2.00, Justin Verlander is not far behind and Vance Worley has replaced Roy Oswalt as the fourth member of the Philadelphia Phillies' vaunted quartet. But when is all said and done, one man will stand head-and-shoulders above the rest as the best in the bigs: The New York Yankees' ace, CC Sabathia.
In past years, Sabathia has waited until right about now to turn it on, coasting on, relative to his standards, mediocre performances and an enviable amount of run production to keep his record near the top of the league. However, this has been a different kind of season for Sabathia.
To say he struggled at any point would be a stretch. In May, Sabathia had his only multi-loss month with two Ls and his ERA "bloated" to 3.47. Since June 25, however, Sabathia has been on a different level. He has given up more than one run just once, an eight-inning, two-run effort that proved to be his only loss over that time.
Overall, Sabathia is 6-1 in that span. His ERA in July? A miniscule .92 to go with 50 strikeouts. On July 26, a slew of rain delays may have cost CC the best game of his career. He had a no-hitter through seven before the longest rain delay of the night.
Manager Joe Girardi gave him a chance to close it out, but Sabathia had lost his groove, lost the no-no and walked himself into trouble.
Who will win the American League Cy Young Award?
On the night, he still set a personal best with 14 strikeouts and picked up his major-league leading 15th win. 14 strikeouts in seven innings of work. For those of you counting at home, that is two per inning. Without the delays, he would have definitely finished what he started. Whether or not he would have given up a hit we will never know.
Statistically, Sabathia ranks second in the American League in strikeouts, his ever-declining ERA has put him in the top five and again, he leads the majors in wins. Sabathia has long been the Majors' best pitcher in August and beyond (remember his epic run with the Brewers?) but it has been his relative lack of success in the previous months that his cost him additional Cy Young Awards to go with his 2007 trophy.
That is not the case this season, as the Big Lefty in the Big Apple has been in the thick of the Cy Young race all season. Historically, the best is yet to come from Sabathia. Expect him to leave the rest of the field in the dust.
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