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Monday, September 13, 2010
1st Pitch: AL Cy Young race

By Jeremy Lundblad

Today’s Trivia:
Felix Hernandez is 11-7 in 27 quality starts this season after going 19-1 in them last season. Who is the only pitcher this season with at least 15 quality starts and a losing record in those games?
PRICE SABATHIA
Quick Hits:
With David Price and CC Sabathia set to face each other on Monday, what better time to dive into the numbers of American League Cy Young contenders?

• With four starts likely remaining, Felix Hernandez has a fair shot at 250 strikeouts (he needs 36). Yet, he’s still just 11-11. The fewest wins for a pitcher with 250 strikeouts and an ERA below 2.40 is 15 by Sam McDowell in 1968. He went 15-14 for the Indians despite a 1.81 ERA and 283 strikeouts. That was 16 fewer wins than Cy Young winner Denny McLain.

• King Felix is 5-0 against AL East teams with a 0.55 ERA. That includes two wins apiece against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, three coming on the road. However, he plays in the AL West, a division against which he is 1-6 with a 4.42 ERA. Amazingly, if you take away his divisional games, Hernandez is 10-5 with a 1.33 ERA.

• When allowing two or three runs, Hernandez is 2-6. Meanwhile, Sabathia is 8-3, while Price is 8-5.

• The poor defense behind Hernandez has resulted in 17 unearned runs, which is the most in the AL. Price and Sabathia have seen just eight unearned runs scored against them.

• Since June 1, Sabathia is 15-3 with a 2.62 ERA. No other pitcher has even 13 wins in that span.

• With 19 wins, Sabathia could be looking at 22 or 23 wins if all goes to plan. The last AL pitcher with 22 wins to lose out on the Cy Young was Dave Stewart in 1990, but he had to contend with teammate Bob Welch (27 wins). The last player to lead the AL with at least 22 wins and not take home the award? Ron Guidry, a fellow Yankee, went 22-6 in 1985, but Bret Saberhagen (20-6) won.

• Sabathia may be getting better support than Hernandez, but 18 of his 19 wins have come in quality starts. He is 1-4 in non-quality starts.

• But what if Price has something that Sabathia and Hernandez don’t? Namely 20+ wins and an ERA below 3.00. Over the last 30 years, only once has an AL pitcher with both of those lost the Cy Young to an AL starter who did not. In 2003, Esteban Loaiza (21-9, 2.90) lost out to Roy Halladay (22-7, 3.25).

• Meanwhile, opponents are slugging .303 against C.J. Wilson, the lowest for an AL starter since 2002 (Derek Lowe). The .590 OPS against Trevor Cahill is the lowest since Johan Santana (.565) in 2004.


Today’s Leaderboard:
Not only does he lead the league with 27 quality starts, but Hernandez has 20 starts of at least seven innings and allowing two ER or fewer. Jered Weaver (16) is the only AL pitcher with more than 15. Sabathia has 13, while Price has 9. Over the last two seasons, Hernandez has 41 such games, which is 13 more than the next AL pitcher (Sabathia).

Key Matchups:
A pair of the top AL Cy Young contenders square off on Monday, as CC Sabathia tries to wake up the Yankees against David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays. According to Elias, it’s the first time in seven years that two AL pitchers with at least 17 wins and 150 strikeouts have faced each other.

Sabathia is looking to become the first 20-game winner in the majors. The last Yankees pitcher to do that was Ron Guidry in 1978. Sabathia is 8-4 with a 3.08 ERA in his career against the Rays. However, since joining the Yankees, he’s just 1-3 with a 4.23 ERA. Let’s see how he stacks up against some of the Rays’ top bats:

Carl Crawford has a hit in four of his last six at-bats against Sabathia after hitting .238 against him before that.
• Over the last two seasons, Carlos Pena is 0-for-11 against Sabathia with nine strikeouts.
• Of Evan Longoria’s five career hits off Sabathia, two are doubles and two are home runs.

Price is 1-1 with a 7.11 ERA against the Yankees this season. Against everyone else he is 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA. In his first start after the break, he allowed seven earned runs against New York. However, it should also be pointed out that Price has won both career starts at home against the Yankees. Let’s take a look at some key matchups:

Derek Jeter has hits in three of his last four at-bats against Price. He was just 1-for-13 prior to that.
Jorge Posada is just 1-for-13 against Price with six strikeouts.
Mark Teixeira is just 2-for-13, but Price has never struck him out.

Trivia Answer:
Hiroki Kuroda is just 6-8 in his 19 quality starts this season. Overall, the Los Angeles Dodgers are 10-9 in those games.